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Being sundry explorations, made while afoot and 
penniless in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, 
Tennessee, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Pennsyl- 
vania. These adventures convey and illustrate 
the rules of beggary for poets and some others 


1 Author of " The Congo" " The Art of The Moving 
I Picture," " Adventures while Preaching 

the Gospel of Beauty" etc. 




Set up and electro typed. Published November, 1916, 

J S. CusMng Co Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 


THE author desires to express his indebted- 
ness to The Outlook for permission to reprint the 
adventures in the South and to Charles Zueblin 
for permission to reprint the adventures in the 

The author desires to express his indebted- 
ness to the Chicago Herald for permission to re- 
print The Would-be Merman, and to The Forum 
for What the Sexton Said, and to The Yale Re- 
view for The Tramp 9 s Refusal. 

The author wishes to express his gratitude 
to Mr. George Mather Richards, Miss Susan 
Wilcox, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ide and Miss 
Grace Humphrey for their generous help and 
advice in preparing this work. 


THERE are one hundred new poets in the 
villages of the land. This Handy Guide is 
dedicated first of all to them. 

It is also dedicated to the younger sons of 
the wide earth, to the runaway boys and girls 
getting further from home every hour, to the 
prodigals who are still wasting their substance 
in riotous living, be they gamblers or blas- 
phemers or plain drunks; to those heretics of 
whatever school to whom life is a rebellion with 
banners ; to those who are willing to accept 
counsel if it be mad counsel. 

This book is also dedicated to those budding 
philosophers who realize that every creature is 
a beggar in the presence of the beneficent sun, 
to those righteous ones who know that all 
righteousness is as filthy rags. 

Moreover, as an act of contrition, reeniist- 
ment and fellowship this book is dedicated to 
all the children of Don Quixote who see giants 
where most folks see windmills: those Gala- 


hads dear to Christ and those virgin sisters of 
Joan of Arc who serve the lepers on their knees 
and march in shabby armor against the proud, 
who look into the lightning with the eyes of 
the mountain cat. They do more soldierly 
things every day than this book records, yet 
they are mine own people, my nobler kin to 
whom I have been recreant, and so I finally 
dedicate this book to them. 
- These are the rules of the road : 

(1) Keep away from the Cities ; - 

(2) Keep away from the railroads ; 

(3) Have nothing to do with money and 
carry no baggage ; 

(4) Ask for dinner about quarter after eleven ; 

(5) Ask for supper, lodging and breakfast 
about quarter of five ; , / , 

(6) Travel .alone; . 

(7) Be neat, deliberate, chaste and civil ; 

(8) Preach the Gospel of Beauty. 

And without further parley, let us proceed 
to inculcate these, by illustration, precept and 

November, 1916. 


""""" PA&E 























IN LOST JERUSALEM . . . . . .113 






CHURCH ..... 180 

PEOPLE OF His HOUSEHOLD) . . . .182 


I asked her "Is Aladdin's Lamp 
Hidden anywhere?" 
"Look into your heart/* she said, 
"Aladdin's Lamp is there.** 

She took my heart with glowing hands. 
It burned to dust and air 
And smoke and rolling thistledown. 
Blowing everywhere. 

"Follow the thistledown," she said, 
"Till doomsday if you dare, 
Over the hills and far away. 
Aladdin's Lamp is there." 



WOULD that we had the fortunes of Columbus. 

Sailing his caravels a trackless way, 

He found a Universe he sought Cathay. 

God give such dawns as when, his venture o'er, 

The Sailor looked upon San Salvador. 

God lead us past the setting of the sun 

To wizard islands, of august surprise ; 

God make our blunders wise. 


IT was Sunday morning in the middle of 
March. I was stranded in Jacksonville, Florida. 
After breakfast I had five cents left. Joyously 
I purchased a sack of peanuts, then started 
northwest on the railway ties straight toward 
that part of Georgia marked "Swamp" on the 

Sunset found me in a pine forest. I decided 
to ask for a meal and lodging at the white 
house looming half a mile ahead just by the 
track. I prepared a speech to this effect : 

"I am the peddler of dreams. I am the 
sole active member of the ancient brotherhood 
of the troubadours. It is against the rules of 
our order to receive money. We have the 
habit of asking a night's lodging in exchange 
for repeating verses and fairy tales." 

As I approached the house I forgot the 
speech. All the turkeys gobbled at me fiercely. 
The two dogs almost tore down the fence try- 
ing to get a taste of me. I went to the side 



gate to appeal to the proud old lady crowned 
with a lace cap and enthroned in the porch 
rocker. Her son, the proprietor, appeared. 
He shall ever be named the dog-man. His 
tone of voice was such, that, to speak In meta- 
phor, he bit me in the throat. He refused 
me a place in his white kennel. He would 
not share his dog-biscuit. The being on the 
porch assured me in a whanging yelp that 
they did not take " nobody in under no cir- 
cumstances." Then the dog-man, mollified by 
my serene grin, pointed with his thumb into 
the woods, saying : " There is a man in there 
who will take you in sure." He said it as 
though it were a reflection on Ms neighbor's 
dignity. That I might not seem to be hurry- 
ing, I asked if his friend kept watch-dogs. 
He assured me the neighbor could not afford 

The night with the man around the corner 
was like a chapter from that curious document, 
"The Gospel according to St. John." He 
"could not afford to turn a man away" be- 
cause once he slept three nights in the rain 
when he walked here from west Georgia. No 
one would give him shelter. After that he 


decided that when he had a roof he would go 
shares with whoever asked. Some strangers 
were good, some bad, but he would risk them 
all. Imagine this amplified in the drawling 
wheeze of the cracker sucking his corn-cob 
pipe for emphasis. 

His real name and address are of no conse- 
quence. I found later that there were thou- 
sands like him. But let us call him "The 
Man Under the Yoke." He was lean as an 
old opium-smoker. He was sooty as a pair 
of tongs. His Egyptian-mummy jaws had a 
two-weeks' beard. His shirt had not been 
washed since the flood. His ankles were in- 
nocent of socks. His hat had no band. J. 
verily believe his pipe was hereditary, smoked 
first by a bond-slave in Jamestown, Virginia. 

He could not read. I presume his wife 
could not. They were much embarrassed 
when I wanted them to show me Lakeland 
on the map. They had warned me against 
that village as a place where itinerant strangers 
were shot full of holes. Well, I found that 
town pretty soon on the map, and made the 
brief, snappy memorandum in my notebook: 
"Ivoid Lakeland." 


There were three uncertain chairs on the 
porch, one a broken rocker. Therefore the 
company sat on the railing, loafing against 
the pillars. The plump wife was frozen with 
diffidence. The genial, stubby neighbor, a 
man from away back in the woods, after tell- 
ing me how to hop freight-cars, departed 
through an aperture in the wandering fence. 

The two babies on the floor, squealing like 
shoats, succeeded in being good without being 
clean. They wrestled with the puppies who 
emerged from somewhere to the number of 
four. I wondered if the Man Under the Yoke 
would turn to a dog-man when the puppies 
grew up and learned to bark. 

Supper was announced with the admonition, 
"Bring the chairs." The rocking chair would 
not fit the kitchen table. Therefore the two 
babies occupied one, ,and the lord of the house 
another, and the kitchen chair was "allotted 
to your servant. The mother hastened to 
explain that she was "not hungry." After 
snuffing the smoking lamp that had no chim- 
ney, she paced at regular intervals between 
the stove and her lord, piling hot biscuits 
before him. 


I could not offer my chair, and make it 
plain that some one must stand. I expressed 
my regrets at her lack of appetite and fell to. 
Their hospitality did not fade in my eyes 
when I considered that they ate such pro- 
visions every day. There was a dish of salt 
pork that tasted like a salt mine. We had 
one deep plate in common containing a soup 
of luke-warm water, tallow, half-raw fat pork 
and wilted greens. This dish was innocent 
of any enhancing condiment. I turned to the 
biscuit pile. 

They were " raw in the middle. I kept up 
courage by watching the children consume 
the tallow soup with zest. After taking one 
biscuit for meat, and one for vegetables, I 
ate a third -for good-fellowship. The mother 
was anxious that her children should be a 
credit, and shook them too sternly and ener- 
getically I thought, when they buried their 
hands in the main dish. 

Meanwhile the Man Under the Yoke told 
me how his bosses in the lumber-camp kept 
his wages down to the point where the grocery 
bill took all his pay; how he was forced to 
trade at the "company" store, there in the 


heart of the pine woods. He had cut himself 
In the saw-pit, had been laid up for a month, 
and "like a fool" had gone back to the same 
business. Last year he had saved a little 
money, expecting to get things "fixed up nice/' 
but the whole family was sick from June till 
October. He liked his fellow-workmen. They 
had to stand all he did. They loved the 
woods, and because of this love would not 
move to happier fortunes. Few had gone 
farther than Jacksonville. They did not under- 
stand travelling. They did not understand 
the traveller and were " likely to be mean to 
him." Then he asked me whether I thought 
"niggers" had souls. I answered "Yes." He 
agreed reluctantly. "They have a soul, of 
course, but it's a mighty small one." We 
adjourned to the front room, carrying our 
chairs down a corridor, where the open door- 
ways we passed displayed uncarpeted floors 
and no furniture. The echo of the slow steps 
of the Man Under the Yoke reverberated 
through the wide house like muffled drums 
at a giant's funeral. Yet the largeness of 
the empty house was wealth. I have been 
entertained since in many a poorer castle; 


for Instance, in Tennessee, where a deaf old 
man, a crone, and lier sister, a lame man, a 
slug of a girl, and a little unexplained boy ate, 
cooked, and slept by an open fire. They had 
neither stove, lamp, nor candle. I was made 
sacredly welcome for the night, though it 
was a one-room cabin with a low roof and a 
narrow door. 

Thanks to the Giver of every good and 
perfect gift, pine-knots cost nothing in a pine 
forest. New York has no such fireplaces 
as that in the front room of the Man Under 
the Yoke. I thought of an essay by a New 
England sage on compensation. There were 
many old scriptures rising in my heart as I 
looked into that blaze. The one I remembered 
most was "I was a stranger, and ye took me 
in." But though it was Sunday night, I did 
not quote Scripture to my host. 

It was seven o'clock. The wife had put 
her babies to bed. She sat on the opposite 
side of the fire from us. Eight o'clock was 
bedtime, the host had to go to work so early. 
But our three hearts were bright as the burn- 
ing pine for an hour. 

You have enjoyed the golden embossed 


brocades of Hokusai. You have felt the 
charm of Maeterlinck's "The Blind." Think 
of these, then think of the shoulders of the 
Man Under the Yoke, embossed by the flame. 
Think of his voice as an occult instrument, 
while he burned a bit of crackling brush, and 
spoke of the love he bore that fireplace, the 
memory of evenings his neighbors had spent 
there with him, the stories told, the pipes 
smoked, the good silent times with wife and 
children. It was said by hints, and repeti- 
tions, and broken syllables, but it was said. 
We ate and drank in the land of heart's desire. 
This man and his wife sighed at the fitting 
times, and smiled, when to smile was to under- 
stand, while I recited a few of the rhymes of 
the dear singers of yesterday and to-day : 
Yeats and Lanier, Burns and even Milton. 
This fire was the treasure at the end of the 
rainbow. I had not been rainbow-chasing in 

As my host rose and knocked out his pipe, 
he told how interesting lumbering with oxen 
could be made, if a man once understood 
how they were driven. He assured me that 
the most striking thing in all these woods 


was a team of ten oxen. He directed me to a 
road whereby I would be sure to see half a 
dozen to-morrow. He said if ever I met a 
literary man, to have him write them into 
verses. Therefore the next day I took the 
route and observed : and be sure, if ever I 
meet the proper minstrel, I shall exhort him 
with all my strength to write the poem of the 

As to that night, I slept in that room in the 
corner away from the fireplace. One comfort 
was over me, one comfort and pillow between 
me and the dark floor. The pillow was laun- 
dered at the same time as the shirt of my host. 
There was every reason to infer that the 
pillow and comfort came from his bed. 

They slept far away, in some mysterious 
part of the empty house. I hoped they were 
not cold. I looked into the rejoicing fire. I 
said: "This is what I came out into the wil- 
derness to see. This man had nothing, and 
gave me half of it, and we both had abundance. 3 * 


REMEMBER, If you go a-wandering, the road 
will break your heart. It is sometimes like a 
woman, caressing and stabbing at once. It is 
a mystery, this quality of the road. I write, 
not to explain, but to warn, and to give the 
treatment. Comradeship and hospitality are 
opiates most often at hand. 

I remember when I encountered the out- 
poured welcome of an Old Testament Patriarch, 
a praying section boss in a gray log village, one 
Monday evening in north Florida. He looked 
at me long. He sensed my depression. He 
made me his seventh son. 

He sent his family about to announce my 
lecture in the schoolhouse on "The Value of 
Poetry." Enough apple-cheeked maidens, sad 
mothers, and wriggling, large-eyed urchins as- 
sembled to give an unconscious demonstration 
of the theme. 

The little lamp spluttered. The windows 


rattled. Two babies cried. Everybody as- 
sumed that lectures were delightful, miserable, 
and important. Tlie woman on the back seat 
nursed her baby, reducing the noise one third. 
When I was through shouting, they passed 
the hat. I felt sure I had carried my point. 
Poetry was eighty-three cents valuable, a 
good deal for that place. And the sons of 
the Patriarch were the main contributors, for 
before the event he had thunderously exhorted 
them to be generous. I should not have taken 
the money ? But that was before I had a good 
grip on my rule. 

The Patriarch was kept away by a neighbor 
who had been seized with fits on Sunday, while 
fishing. The neighbor though mending physi- 
cally, was in a state of apprehension. He de- 
manded, with strong crying and tears, that 
the Patriarch pray with him. Late in the 
evening, as we were about the hearth, recover- 
ing from the lecture, my host returned from 
the sinner's bed, the pride of priesthood in his 
step. He had established a contrite heart in 
his brother, though all the while frank with 
him about the doubtful efficacy of prayer in 
healing a body visited with just wrath. 


Who would not have loved the six sons, when, 
at the Patriarch's command, they drew Into a 
circle around the family altar, with their small 
sister, and the gentle mother with her babe 
at her breast? It was an achievement to put 
the look of prayer into such flushed, wilful 
faces as those boys displayed. They followed 
their father with the devotion of an Ironside 
regiment as he lifted up his voice singing 
"The Son of God goes forth to War." They 
rolled out other strenuous hymns. I thought 
they would sing through the book. I looked 
at the mother. I thanked God for her. She 
was the only woman in Florida who could 
cook. And her voice was honey. Her breast 
was ivory. The child was a pearl. Her whole 
aspect had the age and the youth of one of 
De Forest Brush's austere American madonnas. 
The scripture lesson, selected not by chance, 
covered the adventures of Jacob at Bethel. 

We afterwards knelt on the pine floor, our 
heads in the seats of the chairs. I peeped and 
observed the Patriarch with his chair almost 
in the fireplace. He ignored the heat. He 
shouted the name of the smallest boy, who 
answered the roll-call by praying: "Now I 


lay me down to sleep." The father mega- 
phoned for the next, and the next, with a like 
response. He called the girl's name, but in 
a still small voice she lisped the Lord's Prayer. 
As the older boys were reached, the prayers 
became individual, but containing fragments 
of "Now I lay me." The mother petitioned 
for the soul of the youngest boy, not yet in a 
state of grace, for a sick cousin, and many a 
neighborhood cause. The father prayed twenty 
minutes, while the chair smoked. I forgot the 
chair at last when he voiced the petition that 
the stranger in the gates might have visitations 
on his lonely road, like Jacob at Bethel. Then 
a great appeal went up the chimney that the 
whole assembly might bear abundantly the 
fruits of the spirit. The fire leaped for joy. 
I knew that when the prayer appeared before 
the throne, it was still a tongue of flame. 

Next morning I spent about seventy cents 
lecture money on a railway ticket, and tried 
to sleep past my destination, but the con- 
ductor woke me. He put me off in the Oke- 
fenokee swamp, just inside the Georgia line. 
The waters had more brass-bespangled ooze 


than In mid-Florida ; the marsh weeds beneath 
were lustrous red. I crossed an interminable 
trestle over the Suwannee River. A fidgety 
bird was scolding from tie to tie. If the sky 
had been turned over and the azure boiled 
to a spoonful, you would have had the intense 
blue with which he was painted. If the 
caldron had been filled with sad clouds, and 
boiled to a black lump, you would have had 
my heart. Ungrateful, I had forgotten the 
Patriarch. I was lonely for I knew not what ; 
maybe for my friend Edward Broderick, who 
had walked with me through central Florida, 
and had been called to New York by the 
industrial tyranny which the steel rails repre- 
sented even here. 

We two had taken the path beside the rail- 
way in the regions of Sanford and Tampa, 
walking in loose sand white as salt. An 
orange grove in twilight had been a sky of 
little moons. We had eaten not many oranges. 
They are expensive there. But we had stolen 
the souls of all we passed, and so had spoiled 
them for their owners. It had been an ex- 
quisite revenge. 

We had seen swamps of parched palmettos 


set afire by wood-burning locomotives whose 
volcanic smoke-stacks are squat and wide, 
like those on the engines in grandmother's 
third reader. 

We had met Mr. Terrapin, Mr. Owl, Mrs. 
Cow, and Master Calf, all of them carved by 
the train-wheels, Mr. Buzzard sighing beside 
them. We had met Mr. Pig again at the 
cracker's table, cooked by last year's forest- 
fire, run over by last year's train. But what 
had it mattered? For we together had had 
ears for the mocking-bird, and eyes for the 
moss-hung live oaks that mourn above the 
brown swamp waters. 

We had met few men afoot, only two pro- 
fessional tramps, yet the path by the railway 
was clearly marked. Some Florida poet must 
celebrate the Roman directness of the rail- 
ways embanked six feet above the swamp, 
going everywhere in regions that have no 

But wherever in our land there is a railway, 
there is a little path clinging to the embank- 
ment holding the United States in a network 
as real as that of the rolled steel, a path 
wrought by the foot of the unsubdued. This 


path, wanders back through history till it 
encounters Tramp Columbus, Tramp Dante, 
Tramp St. Francis, Tramp Buddha, and the 
rest of our masters. 

All this we talked of nobly, even grandilo- 
quently, but now I walked alone, ignoring the 
beautiful turpentine forests of Georgia and the 
sometime accepted merits of a quest for the 
Grail, the Gleam, or the Dark Tower. Reach- 
ing Fargo about one o'clock I attempted to 
telegraph fonmoney to take me home, beaten. 
It was not a money-order office, and thirteen 
cents would not have covered the necessary 
business details. Forced to make the best of 
things, I spent all upon ginger-snaps at the 
combination grocery-store and railway-station. 
I shared them with a drummer waiting for the 
freight, who had the figure of Falstaff, and 
the mustaches of Napoleon third. I did not 
realize at that time, that by getting myself 
penniless I was inviting good luck. 

After a dreary while, the local freight going 
to Valdosta came in. Napoleon advanced to 
capture a ride. A conductor and an inspector 
were on the platform. He attacked them 
with cigars. He indulged freely in friendly 


swearing and slapping on the back. He showed 
credentials, printed and written. He did not 
want to wait three hours for the passenger 
train in that much-to-be-condemned town. 
His cigars were refused, his papers returned. 
He took the path to the lumberman's hotel. 
His defeat appeared to be the inspector's doing. 

That obstinate inspector wore a gray stubble 
beard and a collar chewed by many laundries. 
He was encompassed in a black garment of 
state that can -be described as a temperance 
overcoat. He needed only a bulging umbrella 
and a nose like a pump-spout to resemble the 
caricatures of the Prohibition Party that ap- 
peared in Puck when St. John ran for President. 

I showed him all my baggage carried in an 
oil-cloth wrapper in my breast pocket : a 
blue bandanna, a comb, a little shaving mirror, 
a tooth-brush, a razor, and a piece of soap. 
"These," I said, "are my credentials." 

Also I showed a little package of tracts in 
rhyme I was distributing to the best people: 
The Wings of the Morning, or The Tree oj 
Laughing Bells, 1 I hinted he might become 

1 This appears, pages seventy-four through eighty-one, in 
General Booth and Other Poems. 


the possessor of one. I drew Ms attention 
to the fact that there was no purse In the 
exhibit. I divided my last four ginger-snaps 
with him. I showed him a letter commending 
me to all pious souls from a leading religious 
worker In New York, Charles F. Powlison. 

Soon we were thundering away to Valdosta ! 
Mr. Temperance climbed to the observation 
chair in the little box at the top of the caboose, 
alternately puzzling over my Wings of the 
Morning, 1 and looking out. The caboose 
bumped like a farm-wagon on a frozen road. 
The pine-burning stove roared. The negro 
Adonis on the wood-pile had gold in his teeth. 
He had eyes like dark jewels set in white 
marble, and he polished lanterns as black as 

"By Jove/' I said. "That's the handsomest 
bit of lacquer this side of the Metropolitan 

" J Sh/* said Conductor Roundface, sobering 
himself. "You will queer yourself with the 
old man. He wouldn't let that drummer on 
because Tie swore." 

1 This appears, pages seventy-four tlirougli eighty-one, In 
General Booth and Other Poems. 


The old man came down. I bridled my 
profane tongue while lie lectured the conductor 
on the necessity for more interest in the Georgia 
public schools, and the beauty of total ab- 
stinence, and, at last, the Japanese situation. 
This is a condensed translation of his speech: 
"I was on the side of the Russians all through 
the Russo-Japanese war. My friends said, 
'Hooray for Japan. 3 But I say a Japanese 
is a nigger. I have never seen one, but I have 
seen their pictures. The Lord intended people 
to stay where they were put. We ought to 
have trade, but no immigration. Chinese be- 
long to China. They are adapted to the 
Chinese climate. Niggers belong to Africa. 
They are adapted to the African climate. 
Americans belong to America. They are 
adapted to the American climate. Why, the 
mixing that is going on is something scandalous. 
I had a nigger working for me once that was 
half-Spaniard and half -Indian. There are just 
a few white people, and more mulattoes every 
day. The white people ought to keep their 
blood pure. Russians are white people. Ger- 
mans, English, and Americans are white people. 
French people are niggers. Dagoes are niggers. 


Jews are niggers. All people are niggers but 
just these four. There Is going to be a big 
war in two or three years between all the 
white people and all the niggers. The niggers 
are going to combine and force a fight, Japan 
in the lead." 

We reached Valdosta after dark. Conductor 
and inspector exchanged with me most civil 
good-bys. Their hospitality had been nepenthe 
for my poor broken heart. I reconciled my- 
self to sitting in front of the station fireplace 
all night. I thought my nearest friend was 
at Macon, one hundred and fifty miles north; 
a gay cavalier who had read Omar "Khayyam 
with me in college. 

Just then an immense, angular, red-haired 
man sat down in front of the fire. He might 
have been the prodigal son of some Yankee 
farmer-statesman. He threw his arms around 
me, and though I had never seen him before, 
the Brotherhood of Man was established at 
once. He cast an empty bottle into the wood- 
box. He produced another. I would not 
drink. He poured down one-half of it. It 
snorted like dish-water going into the sink. 
He said: "That's right. Don't drink. This 


is the first time I ever drank. I have been 
on a soak two weeks. You see I was in Texas 
a long time, and went broke. I don't know 
how I got here." "Well/' I said, "we have 
this fire till -"they run us out. Enjoy yourself." 

He wept. "I don't deserve to enjoy any- 
thing. Anybody that's made a fool of himself 
as I have done. I wish I were in Vermont 
where my wife and babies are buried. Some- 
body wrote me they were dead and buried just 
when I went broke." 

Thereafter he was merry. "There was a 
man in Vermont I didn't like who kept a fire 
like this. I went to see him every evening 
because I liked his fire. He would study and 
I would smoke." 

He took out two dimes. "Say, that's my 
last money. Let's buy two tickets to the next 
station and get off and shoot up the town." 

A hollow-eyed little man of middle age, 
grimy like a coal-miner, sat down on the 
other side of Mr. Vermont. He said he had 
been flagging trains for so long he could not 
tell when he began. He said he must wait 
three hours for a friend. He declined the 
bottle. He listened to Mr. Vermont's story, 


told with variations. He put his chin into 
his hands, his elbows on his knees, and slept. 
Vermont threw himself on top of the bent 
back, his face wrapped in his arms, like a 
school-boy asleep on his desk-lid. Mr. Flag- 
man slowly awoke, and cast off his brother, 
and slept again. Cautiously Vermont waited, 
to resume his pillow in a quarter of an hour, 
and be again cast off. 

Mr. Flagman sat up. I asked Mm if there 
was a train for Macon going soon. He said: 
"The through freight is making up now." 
He gave me the conductor's name. I asked 
if there was any one about who could write 
me a pass to Macon. He said, "The pay car 
has just come in, and Mr. Grady can give 
you a pass if he wants to/* I went out to the 

From a little window at the end of the car 
Mr. Grady was paying the interminable sons 
of Ham, who emerged from the African night, 
climbed the steps, received their envelopes, 
and slunk down the steps into the African night. 

At last I showed Mr. Grady my letter from 
Charles F. Powlison. Mr. Grady did not ap- 
pear to be of a religious turn. I asked him 


permission to ride to Macon in the caboose of 
the freight, going out at one o'clock, I as- 
sured him it was beneath my dignity to crawl 
into the box-car, or patronize the blind bag- 
gage, and I was tired of walking in swamp. 
Mr. Grady asked, "Are you an official of the 

"No, sir." 

"Then what you ask is impossible, sir/ 9 

"Oh, my dear Mr. Grady, it is not im- 
possible " 

"I am glad to have met you, sir. Good- 
night, sir," and Mr. Grady had shut the win- 

There was the smash, clang, and thud of 
making up a train. A negro guided me to 
the lantern of a freight conductor. The con- 
ductor had the lean frame, the tight jaw, the 
fox nose, the Chinese skin of a card-shark. 
He would have made a name for himself on 
the Spanish Main, some centuries since, by 
the cool way he would have snatched jewels 
from ladies* ears and smiled when they bled. 
He did not smile now. He gripped his lantern 
like a cutlass, and the cars groaned. They 
were gentlemen in armor compelled to walk 


the plank by this pirate with the apple-green 
eyes. We will call him Mr. Shark. 

I put my pious letter into my pocket. "Mr. 
Shark, I would like to ride to Macon in the 
caboose." Mr. Shark thrust his lantern under 
my hat-brim. I had no collar, but was not 
ashamed of that. He said, "I have met men 
like you before." He turned down the track 
shouting orders. I jumped in front of him. 
I said, "You are mistaken. You have not 
met a man like me before. I am the goods. 
I am. the wise boy from New York. I have 
been walking in every swamp 111 Florida, eat- 
ing dead pig for breakfast, water-moccasins 
for lunch, alligators for dinner. I would like 
to tell you my adventures." 

Mr. Shark ignored me, and went on persecut- 
ing the train. 

Valdosta was a depot in the midst of dark- 
ness. I hated the darkness. I went into the 
depot. Vermont was offering Flagman the 
bottle. He drank. 

Flagman asked me : "Can't you make it?" 

"No. Grady turned me down. And the 
conductor turned me down." 

Mr. Flagman said, "The sure way to ride 


in a caboose like a gentleman is to ask the 
conductor like he is a gentleman, and every- 
body else is a gentleman, and when he turns 
you down, ask him again like a gentleman." 
And much more with that refrain. It was 
wisdom lightly given, profounder than it 
seemed. Let us remember the tired flagman, 
and engrave the substance of his saying on our 

I sought the pirate again. I took off my 
hat. I bowed like Don Csesar De Bazan, 
but gravely. "I ask you, just as one gentle- 
man to another, to take me to Macon. I have 
friends in Macon." 

Mr. Shark showed a pale streak of smile. 
"Come around at one o'clock." 

My "Thank you" was drowned by a late 
passenger. It came from Fargo, for Napoleon 
III dismounted. He said: " Hello. Where 
are you going, boy?" 

"I am just taking the caboose of the through 
freight for Macon. But I have a few minutes." 

"How the devil did you get here, sir?" I 
told him the story in brief. We were in front 
of the fire now. "How are you going to make 
this next train ? I would like to go with you." 


I could not tell whether he meant It or not. 
Right beside us Mr. Flagman was asleep for 
all night, with his elbows on his knees, Ms 
chin in his hands. Stretched above Flagman's 
back was Mr. Vermont, like a school-boy 
asleep on his desk. I said, "Do you see the 
gentleman on the bottom of the pile? He Is 
the Grand Lama of Caboose ville. You have 
to ask him for the password. The man on 
top is the sublime sub-Lama." 

Napoleon looked dubiously at them, and the 
two bottles In the wood-box. He gave me 
good words of farewell, finishing with mock- 
gravity : "Of course I respect you, sir, in not 
giving the password without orders from your 
superior, sir." 

And now I boarded the caboose, hurrying 
to surprise the Macon cavalier. He expected 
me in three weeks, walking. But the caboose 
did one hundred and fifty miles In thirteen 
hours, and all the way my heart spun like a 
glorified musical top. Alas, this Is a tale of 
drink. I filled the coffee-pot and drained it 
an Infinite number of times, all because my 
poor broken heart was healed. The stove was 
the only person in the world out of humor. 


He was mad because Ms feet were nailed to 
the floor. He tried to spill the coffee, and 
screamed, "Now you've done It 5 ' every time 
we rounded a curve. The caboose-door 
slammed open every seven minutes, Shark and 
his white man and his negro rushing in from 
their all-night work for refreshment. 

The manner of serving coffee in a caboose is 
this': there are three tin cups for the white 
men. The negro can chew sugar-cane, or steal 
a drink when we do not look. There is a tin 
box of sugar. If one is serving Mr. Shark, 
one shakes a great deal of sugar into the cup, 
and more down one's sleeve, and into one's 
shoes and about the rocking floor. One be- 
comes sprinkled like a doughnut, newly-fried, 
and fragrant with splashed coffee. The cinders 
that come in on the breath of the shrieking 
night cling to the person. But if you are 
serving Mr. Shark you do not mind these 
things. You pour his drink, you eat his bread 
and cheese, thanking him from the bottom of 
your stomach, not having eaten anything 
since the ginger-snaps of long ago. You sol- 
emnly touch your cup to his, as you sit with 
him on the red disembowelled car cushions, 


with the moss gushing out. You wish him 
the treasure-heaps of Aladdin or a racing stable 
in Ireland, whichever he pleases. 

Let all the readers of this tale who hope to 
become Gentlemen of the Road take off collars 
and cuffs, throw their purses into the ditch, 
break their china, and drink their coffee from 
tinware to the health of Mr. Shark, our friend 
with the apple-green eyes. Yea, my wanderers, 
the cure for the broken heart is gratitude to 
the gentleman you would hate, if you had 
your collar on or your purse in your pocket 
when you met him. Though there was heavy 
betting against him, he becomes the Hero in a 
whirlwind finish. Patriarch and Flagman dis- 
puting for second, decision for Flagman. 


MOBS are like the Gulf Stream, 
Like the vast Atlantic. 
In your fragile boats you ride, 
Conceited folk at ease. 
Far beneath are dancers, 
Mermen wild and frantic, 
Circling round the giant glowing 

"Crude, ill-smelling voters, 
Herds," to you in seeming. 
But to me their draggled clothes 
Are scales of gold and red. 
Ah, the pink sea-horses, 
Green sea-dragons gleaming, 
And knights that chase the dragons 
And spear them till they're dead ! 

Wisdom waits the diver 
In the social ocean 
D 33 


Rainbow shells of wonder, 
Piled into a throne. 
I would go exploring 
Through, the wide commotion, 
Building under some deep cliff 
A pearl-throne all my own. 

Yesterday I dived there. 
Grinned at all the roaring. 
Clinging to the corals for a flash, 
Defying death. 
Mermen canie rejoicing, 
In procession pouring, 
Yet I lost my feeble grip 
And came above for breath. 

I would be a merman. 

Not in desperation 

A momentary diver 

Blue for lack of air. 

But with gills deep-breathing 

Swim amid the nation 

Finny feet and hands forsooth. 

Sea-laurels in my hair. 


THE languid town of Macon, Georgia, will 
ever remain in my mind as my first island of 
respite after vagrancy. My friend C. D. 
Russell lent me Ms clothes, took me to Ms 
eating-place, introduced his circle. We settled 
the destiny of the universe several different 
ways in peripatetic discourse. 

After one has ventured one hundred and 
fifty miles through everglades and spent twenty- 
four sleepless hours riding in freight-cabooses 
the marrow of his bones is marsh, his hair and 
clothes are moss, cinders and bark, Ms immortal 
soul is engine-smoke Feeling just so, I had 
entered Russell's law office. He was at court. 
I sent word by his partner that I had gone to 
school with him in Ohio, that I had mailed a 
postal last Sunday from Florida telling Mm I 
would arrive afoot in three weeks, but here 
I was, already. The word was carried with 
Southern precision. 



" There is a person In the office who went to 
school with you in Indiana. 35 

"I did not go to school in Indiana." 

tfc He has been walking in Mississippi and 
Alabama. He wrote you a postal six weeks 

"How does he look?' 5 

"Like the devil. He is principally pants and 
shirt." < -- 

The cavalier knew who that was. He found 
me, took me to his castle, introduced civiliza- 
tion. CIVILIZATION is whiter than the clouds, 
and full of clear water. One enters it with a 
plunge. CULTUEE is a fuzzy fabric with 
which one rubs in CIVILIZATION. After I had 
been intimate with these, I was admitted to 
SOCIETY: a suit of the cavalier 5 s clothes. I 
looked like him then, all but head and hands. 
I regarded myself with awe, as a gorilla would 
if he found himself fading into a Gibson picture. 

A chair is a sturdy creature. I wonder who 
captured the first one? Who put out its eyes 
and taught it to stand still? A table-cloth is 
ritualistic. How nobly the napkin defends the 
vest, while those glistening birds, the knife, 
the fork, the spoon, bring one food. 


How did these things to eat get here among 
these hundreds of houses? One would think 
that if anything to eat were brought among so 
many men, there would be enough hungry ones 
to kill each other and spoil it with blood. 

Why do people stop eating when they have 
had just a bit ? Why not go on forever ? 

We were in another room. The cavalier 
showed on the table what he called his Bible : 
the letters of Lord Chesterfield. To one who 
has not slept in all his life, who has lived a 
thousand years on freight trains, books do not 
count much. But how ingenious is a white 
iron bed, how subtle are pillows, how over- 
whelming is sleep ! 

(North Georgia) 


THE dust of many miles was upon me. I 
felt uncouth in the presence of the sun-dried 
stones. Here was a natural bathing-place. 
Who could resist it? 

I climbed further down the canon, holding 
to the bushes. The cliff along which the 
water rushed to the fall's foot was smooth 
and seemed artificially made, though it had 
been so hewn by the fury of the cataclysm 
in ages past. 

I took off my clothes and put my shoulders 
against the granite, being obliged to lean 
back a little to conform to its angle. I was 
standing with my left shoulder almost touch- 
ing the perilous main column of water. A 
little fall that hurried along by itself a bit 



nearer the bank flowed over me. It came with 
headway. Though it looked so innocent, I 
could scarcely hold up against its power. 

But it gave me delight to maintain myself. 
The touch of the stone was balm to my walk- 
worn body and dust-fevered feet. Like a 
sacerdotal robe the water flowed over my 
shoulders and I thought myself priest of the 

I stepped out into the air. With unwonted 
energy I was able to throw off the coldness 
of my wet frame. The water there at the 
fall's foot was like a thousand elves singing. 
"Joy to all creatures !" cried the birds. "Joy 
to all creatures! Glory, glory, glory to the 
wild falls!" 



I was getting myself sunburned, stretched 
out on the warm dry rocks. Down over the 
steep edge, somewhere near the foot of the 

next descent I heard the pipes of Pan. Why 
should I dress and go? 

I made my shoes and clothes into a bundle. 


and threw them down the cliff and climbed 
over, clinging to the steep by mere twigs. I 
seemed to hear the piping as I approached 
the terrace at the fall's base. Then the sound 
of music blended with the stream's strange 
voice and I turned to merge myself again with 
its waters. 

Against the leaning wall of the cliff I placed 
my shoulders. The descending current srnote 
me, wrestling with wildwood laughter, threat- 
ening to crush me and hurl me to the base of 
the mountain. But just as before my feet 
were well set in a notch of the cliff that went 
across the stream, cut there a million years 

It was a curious combination to discover, 
this stream-wide notch, and above it this wall 
with the water spread like a crystal robe over 
it. In the centre of the fall a Cyclops could 
have stood to bathe, and on the edge was the 
same provision in miniature for feeble man. 
And it was the more curious to find this plan 
repeated in detail by successive cataracts of 
the canon, unmistakably wrought by the slow 
hand of geologic ages. And to see the water 
of the deep central stream undisturbed in the 


midst of the fall and still crystalline, and to 
see it slide down the steep incline and strike 
each, notch at the foot with sudden music and 
appalling foam, was more wonderful than the 
simple telling can explain. 

Each, sheet of crystal that came over my 
shoulders seemed now to pour into them rather 
than over them. I lifted my mouth and drank 
as a desert bird drinks rain. My downstretched 
arms* and extended fingers and the spreading 
spray seemed one. My heart with its exultant 
blood seemed but the curve of a cataract over 
the cliff of my soul. 


Led by the pipes of Pan, I again descended. 
Once more that sound, almost overtaken, 
interwove itself with the water's cry, and I 
merged body and soul with the stream and the 
music. The margin of another cataract crashed 
upon me. In the recklessness of pleasure, one 
arm swung into the main current. Then the 
water threatened my life. To save myself, I 
was kneeling on one knee. I reached out 


blindly and found a hold at last in a slippery 
cleft, and later, it seemed an age, with the 
other hand I was able to reach one leaf. The 
leaf did not break. At last its bough was in 
my grasp and I crawled frightened Into the 
sun. I sat long on a warm patch of grass. 

But the cliffs and the water were not really 
my enemies. They sent a wind to give me 
delight. Never was the taste of the air so sweet 
as then. The touch of it was on my lips like 
fruit. There was a flattery in the tree-limbs 
bending near my shoulders. They said, "There 
is brotherhood in your footfall on our roots 
and the touch of your hand on our boughs." 

The spray of the splashed foam was wine. 
I was the unchallenged possessor of all of 
nature my body and soul could lay hold upon. 
It was the fair season between spring and 
summer when no one came to this place. Like 
Selkirk, I was monarch of all I surveyed. In 
my folly I seemed to feel strange powers creep- 
ing into my veins from the sod. I forgot my 
near-disaster. I said in my heart, "0 Mother 
Earth majestical, the touch of your creatures 
has comforted me, and I feel the strength of 
the soil creeping up into my dust. From this 


patch of soft grass, power and courage come up 
Into me from your bosorn, from the foundation 
of your continents. I feel within me the soul 
of iron from your iron mines, and the soul of 
lava from your deepest fires/' 


The satyrs in the bushes were laughing at 
me and daring me to try the water again. 

I stood on the edge of the rapids where were 
many stones coming up out of the foam. I 
threw logs across. The rocks held them in 
place. I lay down between the logs in the 
liquid ice. I defied it heartily. And my 
brother the river had mercy upon me, and 
slew me not. 

Amid the shout of the stream the birds were 
singing: "Joy, joy, joy to all creatures, and 
happiness to the whole earth. Glory, glory, 
glory to the wild falls." 

I struggled out from between the logs and 
threw my bundle over the cliff, and again 
descended, for I heard the pipes of Pan, just 
below me there, too plainly for delay. They 


seemed to say "Look! Here is a more ex- 
quisite place." 

The sun beat down upon me. I felt myself 
twin brother to the sun. My body was lit 
with an all-conquering fever. I had walked 
through tropical wildernesses for many a mile, 
gathering sunshine. And now in an afternoon 
I was gambling my golden heat against the 
icy silver of the river and winning my wager, 
while all the leaves were laughing on all the 

And again I stood in a Heaven-prepared 
place, and the water poured in glory upon my 


Why was it so dark ? Was a storm coming ? 
I was dazed as a child in the theatre beholding 
the crowd go out after the sudden end of a 
solemn play. My clothes, it appeared, were 
half on. I was kneeling, looking up. I counted 
the falls to the top of the canon. It was night, 
and T had wrestled with them all. My spirit 
was beyond all reason happy. This was a day 
for which I had not planned. I felt like one 
crowned. My blood was glowing like the 
blood of the crocus, the blood of the tiger-lily. 


And so I meditated, and then at last the chill 
of weariness began to touch me and in my 
heart I said, "Oh Mother Earth, for all my 
vanity, I know I am but a perishable flower in 
a cleft of the rock. I give thanks to you 
who have fed me the wild milk of this river, 
who have upheld me like a child of the gods 
throughout this day." 

Around a curve in the canon, down stream, 
growing each moment sweeter, I heard the 
pipes of Pan. 


Go, you my brothers, whose hearts are in 
sore need of delight, and bathe in the falls of 
Tallulah. That experience will be for the 
foot-sore a balm, for the languid a lash, for 
the dry-throated pedant the very cup of na- 
ture. To those crushed by the inventions of 
cities, wounded by evil men, it will be a wash- 
ing away of tears and of blood. Yea, it will 
be to them all, what it was to my heart that 
day, the sweet, sweet blowing of the reckless 
pipes of Pan. 


LET us now recall a certain adventure among 
the moonshiners. 

When I walked north from Atlanta Easter 
morning, on Peachtree road, orchards were 
flowering everywhere. Resurrection songs flew 
across the road from humble blunt steeples. 

Stony Mountain, miles to the east, Kenesaw 
on the western edge of things, and all the rest 
of the rolling land made the beginning of a 
gradual ascent by which I was to climb the 
Blue Ridge. The road mounted the watershed 
between the Atlantic and the gulf. 

An old man took me into his wagon for a 
mile. I asked what sort of people I would 
meet on the Blue Ridge. He answered, "They 
make blockade whisky up there. But if you 
don't go around hunting stills by the creeks, 
or in the woods away from the road, they'll 
be awful glad to see you. They are all moon- 
shiners, but if they likes a man they loves him, 



and they're as likely to get to lovin 5 you as 
not/ 5 

When I was truly In the mountains, six days 
north of Atlanta, a day's journey from the last 
struggling railway, the road wound into a 
certain high, uninhabited valley. Two days 
back, at a village I entered just after I had 
enjoyed the falls of "Tallulah, I had found a 
letter from my new friend John Collier whom 
I had met In Macon and Atlanta. It contained 
a little money, which he insisted I should take, 
to make easier my way. I was inconsistent 
enough to spend some of it, instead of return- 
ing it or giving it "to the poor/' 

I invested seventy-five cents in brogans 
made of the thickest leather. I had thought 
they were conquered the first day. But now 
one of them bit a piece out of my heel. John 
Collier has done noble things since. On my 
behalf, for instance, he climbed Mount Mitchell 
with me, and showed me half the glory of the 
South. Then and after, he has helped my 
soul with counsel and teaching. But he should 
not have corrupted a near-Franciscan with 
money for hoodoo brogans. Though it was 
fairly warm weather, if ever I rested five 


minutes, the heavy things stiffened like cooling 

The little streams I crossed scarcely afforded 
me a drink. Their dried borders had the foot- 
prints of swine on them. 

Lameness affects one's vision. The thick 
woods were the dregs of the landscape, fit 
haunt for the acorn-grubbing sow. The road 
following the ridges was a monster's spine. 

Those wicked brogans led me where they 
should not. Or maybe It was just my destiny 
to find what I found. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon, after 
exploring many roads that led to futile nothing, 
I was on what seemed the main highway, and 
dragged myself into the sight of the first mortal 
since daybreak. He seemed like a gnome as 
he watched me across the furrows. And so 
he was, despite his red-ripe cheeks. The 
virginal mountain apple-tree, blossoming over- 
head, half covering the toad-like cabin, was 
out of place. It should have been some fabu- 
lous, man-devouring devil-bush from the tropics, 
some monstrous work of the enemies of God. 

The child, just in her teens, helping the 
Gnome to plant sweet potatoes, had in her 


life planted many, and eaten few. Or so It 
appeared. She was a crouching lump of earth. 
Her father dug the furrow. She did the plant- 
ing, shovelling the dirt with her hands. Her 
face was sodden as any in the slums of Chicago. 
She ran to the house a ragged girl, and came 
back a homespun girl, a quick change. It 
must not be counted against her that she did 
not wash her face. 

The Gnome talked to me meanwhile. He 
had made up his mind about me. "I guess 
you want to stay all night ? " 


"The next house is fifteen miles away. 
You are welcome if what we have is good 
enough for you. My wife is sick, but she 
will not let you be any bother." 

I wanted to be noble and walk on. But I 
persuaded myself my feet were as sick as the 
woman. I accepted the Gnome's invitation. 

Let the readers with a detective instinct note 
that his hoe-handle was two feet short, and had 
been whittled a little around the top to make 
it usable. It was at best an awkward instru- 
ment. (The mystery will soon be solved.) 

We were met at the door by one my host 


called Brother Joseph a towering shape with, 
an upper lip like a walrus, for it was armed 
with tusk-like mustaches. He was silent as 
King Log. 

But the Gnome said, "I have saved up a 
month of talk since the last stranger came 
through." With ease, with simplicity of word, 
with I know not how much of guile, he gave 
fragments of his life : how he had lived in this 
log house always, how his first wife died, how 
her children were raised by this second wife 
and married off, how they now enjoyed this 
second family. 

He showed me the other fragment of the 
hoe-handle. "I broke that over a horse's 
head the last time I was drunk. I always 
get crazy. When I come to, I do not remem- 
ber anything about it. The last time I fought 
with my cousin. When I knocked down his 
horse he drew his knife. I drew this knife. 
My wife said I fought like a wild hog. I 
sliced my cousin pretty bad. He skipped the 
country, for he cut out one of my lungs and 
two of my ribs. I lost two buckets of blood. 
It took the doctor a long time to put my in- 
sides back." 


From this Lour forward lie struggled between 
the luxury of being even more confidential, 
and the luxury of being cautious like a lynx. 
I squirmed. Despite his abandon, he was 
watching me. 

I put one hand in my pocket. I found a 
diversion, a pair of eyeglasses. I had chanced 
on them in the bushes at Tallulah. The droop 
of his eyelids as he put them on was exquisite. 
He paced the floor. I had a review of his 
appearance. He was like a thin twist of 
tobacco. He had been burned out by too- 
sharp whisky. The babies clapped their hands 
as he strutted. He was like a third-rate Sun- 
day-school teacher in a frock coat in the presence 
of the infant class. He was glad to keep the 
glasses, yet asked questions with a double 
meaning, implying I had stolen them in At- 
lanta, and fled these one hundred miles. We 
were gay rogues, and we knew it. 

"Get up ! Make some coffee and supper!" 
he shouted to the figure on the bed in the 
black corner of the cabin. He kept his jaw 
tight on his pipe, speaking to her in the gnome 
language. She replied in kind, snorting and 
muffling her words, without moving lips or 


tongue, and keeping her teeth on her snuff- 
stick. She stumbled up, groaning, with both 
hands on her head. She had once been a 
woman. She had lived with this thing too 
long. All the trappings that make for home 
had grown stale and weird about her. The 
scraps of rag-carpet on the floor were rat 
eaten. The red calico window curtains were 
vilely dirty from the years of dust and the 
leak of many rains. The benches were bat- 
tered, unsteady. The door-latch was gone. 
The door was held in place by a stone. , She 
stood before me, her hair hanging straight across 
her face or down her collar, or flying about 
or tied behind in a dreadful knot. She stood 
before me, but as long as I was in that house 
she did not look at me, she did not speak to me. 
There was no stove. The Gnome said: 
"Wife don't like a stove. She had rather 
cook the way she learned." We rolled in the 
back-log for her and coaxed up the embers. 
We sat at one side of the hearth. We ex- 
changed boastful adventures. She crawled into 
the fireplace to nurse the corn-bread and coffee 
and pork to perfection and place the Dutch 
oven right. 


Have you heard your grandmother speak of 
the Dutch oven? It Is a squat kettle which 
is set in the embers. When it is hot, the biscuit 
dough is put in and the lid replaced. Slowly 
the biscuits become ambrosia. Slowly the 
watching cook is baked. 

The Devil was in my host. By his coaxing 
hospitality he made it seem natural that a 
woman deadly, sick should serve us. The rest 
of the family could wait. It did not matter 
if the tiny one cried and pulled the mother's 
skirt. She smote it into silence and fear, then 
carried it to the black corner where the potato 
planter herded the rest of the babies, helped 
by King Log, the walrus-headed. 

The Gnome said, "I quit drinking ever since 
I had that fight I told you about. I don't 
dare drink. So I take coffee." 

You should have seen him flooding himself 
with black coffee, drinking from a yellow bowl. 
I said to myself: "He will surely turn to the 
consolation of liquor anon. He will beat his 
wife again. He will drive his children into the 
woods. This woman must fight the battle 
for her offspring till her black-snake hair is 
white. Or maybe that insane knife will go 


suddenly Into her throat. She may die soon 
with her hair black, and red." 

We ate with manly leisure. We were sated. 
The mother prepared the second meal, and 
called the group from the black corner. She 
made ready her own supper. I see her by 
the fire., the heavy arm shielding her face, the 
hunched figure a knot of roots, a palpable 
mystery about her, making her worthy of a 
portrait by some new Rembrandt. It is the 
tragic mystery born of the isolation of the 
Blue Ridge and the juice of the Indian corn. 
Let us not forget the weapon with which she 
fights the flame, the quaint long shovel. 

Let us watch her at the table, breaking her 
corn-bread alone, her puffy eyelids closed, 
her cheek-bones seeming to cut through the 
skin. There is something of the eagle in her 
aspect because of her Roman nose, and her 
hands moving like talons. It is not corn-bread 
that she tears and devours. She is consuming 
her enemies, which are Weariness, Squalor, 
Plat and Unprofitable Memory, Spiritual Death. 
She is seeking to forget that the light of the 
hearthstone that falls on her dirty but beau- 
tiful babies is kindled in hell. 


The Gnoine spoke of Ms hogs. A Middle 
West farmer can talk hogs, and the world will 
admire him the more. But a medieval swine- 
herd dare not. It is self-betrayal 

My host grew affectionate, grandfatherly. 
He told of a solid acre of mica on top of a 
mountain. He speculated that it was a mile 
deep. He put a chunk into my pocket for me 
to carry to Asheville to interest great capitalists. 
He offered me fifty per cent on the profits. 
I took out a copy of the Tree of Laughing 
Bells from my pocket. I reviewed the tale 
contained in the book, in words I thought the 
Gnome would understand. Then he read it 
for himself with the "specs." He was proud 
of having learned to read out of the Bible, 
with 110 schooling. 

He seemed particularly impressed with the 
length of the journey of the hero of the poem, 
who flew "to the farthest star of all." He 
looked at me with conceited shrewdness. "I 
played hookey myself, when I was a kid. I 
rode and walked forty-five miles that day. 
I was mighty glad to get back to my mammy 
the day after. I never wanted to run away 
again." He shook his pipe at me. "You 


are just a run-away boy, that's what you 

He said something favorable about me to his 
wife, in the gnome language. She stood up. 
She shrilled back a caution. She showed her 
dirty teeth at him. But there was something 
he was bursting to tell me. He was essentially 
too reckless to conceal a secret long, even a 
life-and-death secret. He began : "I still raise 
a little corn." 

The Walrus gave a sort of watch-dog bark. 
The Gnome reluctantly accepted the caution. 
He pointed sharply to the bed farthest from the 
black corner of the room. 

"That's for you." 

"Isn't there a shed or a corn-crib where I 
can sleep?" 

"No, you don't get out of this house to-night. 
There aren't any sheds or cribs." 

I looked helplessly around that single-roomed 
cabin. Not fear, but modesty, overcame me. 
I was expected to retire first. But King Log, 
the Walrus, perceiving my diffidence, set me 
an example. He rapidly hauled a couch off 
the porch and tumbled into it, first undressing 
as far as his underwear. With a quilt almost 


to Ms chin, and covering Ms pretty pink feet, 
he was a decent spectacle. 

Happily I also wore underwear, and was 
soon under my quilt. I stole a look at tie 
potato planter. I realized that she was tlie 
maiden present. Be pleased, O brothers, to 
observe that she has been aware of her age 
and state. She has huddled up to the fire, 
with her back to us ; she has hidden her face 
on her knees. At last she piles ashes on the 
embers and finds a place in the black corner 
in the cot full of children. Her father and 
mother take the cot between. 

Next morning was Sunday, a week since 
Easter. Only when a man has sadly mangled 
feet, and blood heated by many weeks of ad- 
venture, can he find luxury such as I found in 
the icy stream next morning. The divine rivulet 
on the far side of the field had been misnamed 
"Mud Creek." It was clear as a diamond. 

Always carrying a piece of soap in my hip 
pocket, I was able to take a complete scour. 
Not content with tMs (pardon me), I did scrub 
shirt, socks, underwear, and bandanna. I hung 
them on the bushes, thanking God for the wind. 
Taking my before-mentioned credentials from 


my pocket, I made myself Into a gentleman. 
When I dressed at last, my clothes were a 
little damp, but I knew that an hour's walking 
would put all to rights. As I held the bushes 
aside I saw a crib-like structure that made me 
shake more than the damp clothes. Was it 
a still, or was it not a still ? 

In my innocence I could not tell. But I 
remembered the warning, "Don't go pokin* 
round huntin' stills by the creeks." 

As I hurried to the house my host carelessly 
appeared from the region of my bathing-place. 
He was whittling with his historic knife. I 
suppose he had noted my actions enough to 
restore his confidence. Anyway, the shame of 
being unwashed was his only visible emotion. 
He said, "I always bathe in hot water." 

"So do I, when I am not on the road." 

Still he was abashed. He took an enormous 
chew of tobacco to vindicate himself. 

After breakfast the wife helped the Walrus 
to drag the cot out of doors, When she was 
alone on the porch I told her how sorry I was 
she had been obliged to cook for me. I thanked 
her for her toil. But she hurried away, with- 
out a pause or a glance. She kissed one of those 


miry faced babies. She walked into the house, 
leaving me smirking at the hills. She growled 
something at the host. He came forth. He 
pointed out the road, over the mountains and 
far away. He broke off a blossoming apple- 
sprig and whittled it. 

"So you've been to Atlanta?" he asked. 


" I was there once. What hotel did you use ? " 

"The Salvation Army." 

"I was in the United States Hotel." 

Still I was stupid. He continued : 

"I was there two years." 

He put on his glasses. He threw down the 
apple-sprig, and, looking over the glasses, he 
made unhappy each blossom in his own peculiar 
way. He continued: "I was in the United 
States Hotel, for making blockade whisky. I 
don't make it any more." He spat again. 
"I don't even go fishin' on Sunday unless " 

He had made up his mind that I was a cus- 
tomer, not a detective. 

"Unless what?" 

"Unless a visitor wants a mess of fish." 

But I did not want a mess of fish. Re- 
peatedly I offered money for my night's lodging. 


This he declined with real pride. He main- 
tained his one virtue intact. And so I thought of 
him, just as I left, as a man who kept his code. 

The John Collier brogans were easier that 
morning, partly because I had something new 
on my mind, no doubt. 

I thought of the Gnome a long time. I 
thought of the wife, and wondered at her as 
a unique illustration of the tragic mysteries 
of the human race. If she screams when seven 
devils enter into the Gnome, no one outside 
the house will hear but the apple-tree. If she 
weeps, only the wind in the chimney will 
understand. If she seeks justice and the law, 
King Log, the Walrus, is her uncertain refuge. 
If she desires mercy, the emperor of that 
valley, the king above King Log, is a venomous 
serpent, even the Worm of the Still. 

But now the road unwound in glory. I 
walked away from those serpent-bitten domin- 
ions for that time. I was one with the air of 
the sweet heavens, the light of the ever-endur- 
ing sun, the abounding stillness of the forest, 
and the inscrutable Majesty, brooding on the 
mountains, the Majesty whom ignorantly we 


On Being Asked by a Beautiful Gipsy to Join her Group 
of Strolling Players. 

LADY, I cannot act, though I admire 
God's great chameleons, Booth-Barret men. 
But when the trees are green, my thoughts may 


October-red. December comes again 
Ajid snowy Christmas there within my breast 
Though I be walking in the August dust. 
Often my lone contrary sword is bright 
When every other soldier's sword is rust. 
Sometimes, while churchly friends go up to God 
On wings of prayer to altars of delight 
I walk and talk with Satan, call him friend, 
And greet the imps with converse most polite. 
When hunger nips me, then at once I knock 
At the near farmer's door and ask for bread. 
I must, when I have wrought a curious song 
Pin down some stranger till the thing is read. 
When weeds choke up within, then look to me 
To ghow the world the manners of a weed. 



I cannot change my cloak except my heart 
Has changed and set the fashion for the deed. 
When love betrays me I go forth to tell 
The first kind gossip that too-patent fact. 
I cannot pose at hunger, love or shame. 
It plagues me not to say : "I cannot act." 
I only mourn that this unharnessed me 
Walks with the devil far too much each day. 
I would be chained to angel-kings of fire. 
And whipped and driven up the heavenly way. 


A Story of Seven Aristocrats and a Soap-Kettle. 

WITH no sorrow In my heart, with no money 
In my pocket, with no baggage but a lunch, 
the most dazzling feature of which was a piece 
of gingerbread, I walked away from a wind- 
swept North Carolina village, one afternoon, 
over the mountain ridges toward Lake Toxa- 
way. I turned to the right once too often, 
and climbed Mount Whiteside. There was a 
drop of millions of miles, and a Lilliputian 
valley below like a landscape by Charlotte B. 
Coman. I heard some days later that once 
a man tied a dog to an umbrella and threw 
him over. Dog landed safely, barking still. 
Dog was able to eat, walk, and wag as before. 
But the fate of the master was horrible. Dog 
never spoke to him again. 

Having no umbrella, I retraced my way. 
I stepped into the highway that circumscribes 
the tremendous amphitheatre of Cashier's Val- 
ley. I met not a soul till eight o'clock that 



night. The mountain laurel, the sardis bloom, 
the violet, and the apple blossom made glad 
the margins of the splendidly built road ; and, 
as long as the gingerbread lasted, I looked 
upon these things in a sort of sophisticated 

This was because the gingerbread was given 
me by a civilized man, to whom John Collier 
had written for me a letter of introduction: 
Mr. Thomas G. Harbison, Botanical Collector ; 
American tree seeds a specialty. 

Back there by the village he was improving 
the breed of mountain apples by running a 
nursery. He was improving the children with 
a school he taught without salary, and was 
using the most modern pedagogy. Something 
in his manner made me say, "You are like a 
doctor out of one of Ibsen's plays, only you 
are optimistic." Then we talked of Ibsen. 
He debated art versus science, he being a 
science-fanatic, I an art-fanatic. He concluded 
the argument with these words: "You are 
bound to be wrong. I am bound to be wrong. 
What is the use of either of us judging the 
other?*' That is not the mountain way of 
ending a discussion. 


For the purposes of the tale, as well as for 
Bis own merits, we must praise this civilized 
man who entertained me a day and a half so 
well. His mountain cottage was a permanent 
civilized camp. Without intruding on his 
privacy, we can show what that means. Cross 
a few states to the west with me. 

Have you watched the camps of the up-to- 
date visitors, in the oldest parts of Colorado? 
They begin with tent, axe, blanket, bacon, and 
frying-pan, as miners do. In ten summers, 
though they climb as much as the miners, 
wear uglier boots, and rougher clothes, their 
tents are highly organized. They are conven- 
ient and free from clutter as the best New 
York flat. The axe has multiplied rustic 
benches, bridges, shelters. It has made a 
refrigerator in the stream. The frying-pan 
has changed into a camp-stove and a box of 
white granite dishes. The blanket flowers and 
Mariposa lilies that made the aspen groves 
celestial have been gathered in jardinieres. 

Meanwhile, in the big houses of the veteran 
miners of the villages are the axe, the blanket, 
and the frying-pan, though their lords have 
been through half a dozen fortunes since 


pioneer days. Those houses have the single 
great advantage of a rich tradition. They 
seem to grow up out of the ground. 

Musing these matters, I munched my ginger- 
bread, walking past sweet waterfalls, groves of 
enormous cedars, many springs, and one de- 
serted cabin. I was homesick for that great 
civilized camp, New York, and the sober- 
minded pursuit of knowledge there. 

But civilization lost her battle at twilight, 
when I swallowed my last gingerbread crumb. 
Immediately I was in the land beyond the 
nowhere place, willing to sleep twelve hours 
by a waterfall, or let the fairies wake me before 
day. The road went deeper into savagery. 
I blundered on, rejoicing in the fever of weari- 
ness. In the piercing light of the young stars, 
the house that came at last before me seemed 
even more deeply rooted in the ground than 
the oaks around it. What new revelation 
lies here? Knock, knock, knock, my soul, 
and may Heaven open a mystery that will give 
the traveller a contrite heart. 

Let us tell a secret, even before we enter. 
If, with the proper magic in our minds, we were 
guests here, a year or a day, we might write 


the world's one unwritten epic. All day, in 
one of these tiny rooms, amid appointments 
that fill the spirit with the elation o simple 
things, we would write. At evening we would 
dream the next event by the fire. The epic 
would begin with the opening of the door. 

There appeared a military figure, with a 
face like Henry living's in contour, like 
Whistler's in sharpness, fantasy, and pride. 

"May I have a night's lodging? I have no 

"Come in. ... We never turn a man 

We were inside. He asked: "What might 
be your name?" I gave it. He gave his. 
The circle by the fire did not turn their heads, 
but presumably I was introduced. One child 
ran into the kitchen. My host gave me her 
chair. All looked silently into the great soap- 
kettle in the midst of the snapping logs. 

I have a high opinion of the fine people of 
the South, and gratefully remember the scatter- 
ing of gentlefolk so good as to entertain me in 
their mansions. But in this cottage, with one 
glance at those fixed, flushed faces, I said: 
"This is the best blood I have met in this 


United States." The five cMldren were night- 
blooming flowers. There were Mnts of Dore 
In the shadow of the father, cast against the 
log walls of the cabin. He sat on the 'little 
stairway. He was a better Don Quixote than 
Dore ever drew. 

I said, "Every middle-aged man I have met 
in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina has 
been a soldier, and I suppose you were." 

He looked at me long, as though the obliga- 
tion of hospitality did not involve conversa- 
tion. He spoke at last : " I fought, but I could 
not help it. It was for home, or against home. 
I fought for this cabin." 

"It is a beautiful cabin." 

He relented a bit. "We have kept it just 
so, ever since my great-grandfather came here 
with Ms pack-mule and made Ms own trail. 
I I hated the war. "We did not care any- 
thing about the cotton and niggers of the fire- 
eaters. The niggers never climbed this Mgh." 

I changed the subject. "TMs is the largest 
fireplace I have seen in the South. A man 
could stand up in it/ 5 

He stiffened again. "This is not the South. 
This is the Blue Ridge" 


An inner door opened. It was plain the 
woman wlio stood there was Ms wife. She 
had the austere mouth a wife's passion gives. 
She had the sweet white throat of her 
youth, that made even the candle-flame re- 
joice. She looked straight at me, with ink- 
black eyes. She was dumb, like some one 
struggling to awake. 

"Everything is ready ," she said at length to 
her husband. 

He turned to me: "Your supper is now in 
the kitchen, 'if what we have is good enough. 3 9S 
It was the usual formula for hospitality. 

I turned to the wife. "My dear woman, I 
did not know that this was going on. It is 
not right for you to set a new supper at this 
hour. I had enough on the road." 

"But you have walked a long way. 35 Then 
she uttered the ancient proverb of the Blue 
Ridge. " C A stranger needs takin' care of. 5 " 

In the kitchen there was a cook-stove. 
Otherwise there was nothing to remind one of 
the world this side of Beowulf. I felt myself 
in a stronghold of barbarian royalty. 

"Do you do your own spinning and weav- 


Slie lifted the candle, lighting a corner. 
"Here are the cards and the wools, 5 * She 
held it higher. " There is the spinning wheel.'* 

"Where is the loom?" 

"Up stairs, just by where you will sleep/ 9 

I knew that if there was a loom, it was a 
magic one, for she was a witch of the better 
sort, a fine, serious witch, and a princess withal. 
Her ancestors wore their black hair that simple 
way when their lords won them by fighting 
dragons. She was prouder than the pyramids. 
If the epic is ever written, let it tell how the 
spinner of the wizard wools did stand to serve 
the stranger, that being the custom of her 
house. This was a primitive camp indeed. 
There was no gingerbread. There was not one 
thing to remind me of the last table at which 
I had eaten. But every gesture said, "Good 
prince, you are far from your court. There- 
fore, this, our royal trencher, is yours. May 
you find your way to your own kingdom In 
peace." But for a long time her lips were 
still. She had the spareness of a fertile, toiling 
mother. And, ah, the motherhood in her 
voice when she said at last, "My son, you are 


Let the epic tell that, when the stranger 
returned to the fireplace, a restless, expectant 
silence settled down upon the circle. There 
was portent in the hiss of the flames. When I 
spoke to the children they only stared at me 
as at a curious shadow. Their lips moved not. 
The eldest, about seventeen, had inherited, no 
doubt, his love of strange brewing. He looked 
sideways into the soap-kettle. I said to my- 
self, "He sees more hippogriffs than steam- 
engines." He eyed every move of the circle 
with restless approval or disapproval. Every 
chip his little brother threw on the fire seemed 
to be a symbol of some precious thing sacrificed, 
every curl of steam seemed to have something 
to do with the destiny of the house. 

He took out of his pocket a monthly magazine. 
It was the sort that costs ten cents a year. 
No doubt, had he gone to school to the admir- 
able man who gave me gingerbread, he would 
have learned to read scientific and technical 
monthlies. But a magazine of any sort is a 
terribly intrusive thing at this juncture. The 
boy, and a sister just a little younger, read in 
a loud whisper to one another an advertise- 
ment they did not want me to hear. At their 


stage of culture It was Impossible to read 
silently. The advertisement, if I remember, 
went about this way : 

"Free, free, free ! A sewing machine ! Send 
us a two-cent stamp, your name and address, 
mentioning the name of this magazine. We 
will tell you how to get an up-to-date sewing 
machine absolutely free. This offer Is good 
for thirty days." 

They wrote a most unscholarly letter, spell- 
ing it aloud. It required their total and 
united culture to produce it. When the girl 
returned to the fire, she was provoked by her 
pride Into an astonishing flush. How it set 
off her temples, with their pattern of azure 
veins ! With her lotus-leaf hands, the hands 
of Hathor, goddess of love, she cooled her 
cheeks again and again. There Is something 
of breeding In the very color of blood. Come, 
brothers of the road, all who travel with me in 
fancy, will you not join the knighthood of the 
soap-kettle? Conie, ladies in mansions,, will 
you not be one with us? None of you could 
have gainsaid the maiden-in-chief of the as- 
sembly. She wore her homespun as Zenobia, 
princess of Palmyra, wore her splendors. With 


her arms around her two gypsy younger sisters 
she smiled at last into the soap-kettle. When 
the epic is written, let it use words of marvel- 
ling, speaking of her hair, so pale, so electrical, 
set in a thick, ingenious coronal. 

All the little children stood up. "Uncle," 
they shouted. Hoofs sounded by the door. 
A man entered without knocking. "When he 
saw me he became ceremonious as a Mandarin. 

"This is a traveller," said my host. 

The messenger indulged in inquiries about 
my welfare, journey, and destination. My host 

"How's mother? We have watched late to 

"She is much worse." And the messenger 
went on to say that she might not live two 
days, and the doctor was a careless, indifferent 
dog, treating her as though she were an ordinary 
old woman. 

"Does he still give her strychnine?" 

"He won't deny it." The messenger ex- 
plained that the doctor thought strychnine in 
small doses was good for old people. The 
scientist who gave me gingerbread should have 
been there to champion the doctor. In the 


eyes of Ms judges that night he was suspected 
of poisoning or treating with criminal folly, 
royalty itself. 

The younger doctor was miles away, and 
might refuse to make the trip. The two loyal 
sons seemed paralyzed because the time for 
decision and the time for mourning came to- 
gether. There were long silences, interrupted 
by my host repeating in a sort of primitive 
song, "1 can't think of anything except my 
dying mother. I can't think of anything except 
mother is going to die." 

At last, with his brother's consent, the 
messenger galloped and galloped away, to 
find his only hope, the younger physician. 
As the wife gave me the candle, sending me 
up stairs, I looked back at the family circle. 

Helpless grief made every face rigid. I 
looked again at the eldest daughter. The 
moving shadows embroidered on her breast 
intricate symbols of the fair years, passing by 
In the ghost of tapestry, things that happened 
in the beginning of the world. Let the epic 
tell that when the stranger slept there was a 
magic loom by his bed that wove that history 
again in valiant colors, showing battles without 


number, and sieges, and interminable sunny 
love-tales, and lotus-handed ladies whispering 
over manuscript things too fine to be told, 
and ruddy warriors sitting at watch-fires on 
battlements eternal; and let the epic tell 
how, in the early dawn, the stranger half 
awoke, yet saw this tapestry hung round the 
walls. If one could remember every story for 
which the pictures stood, he might indeed 
write the world's unwritten epic. The last 
tapestry to be hung changed from gold to 
black warp and woof upon which was written 
that because of a treacherous prime minister 
who served a poisoned wine, the Empress of the 
White Witches was perishing before her time, 
and the young wizard, with the counter-spell, 
was riding night and day, but all the palace 
knew he would arrive too late. 

At breakfast the faces were stolid and white 
as frost. The father answered me only when 
I said good-by. 

He said he hardly knew whether I had had 
anything to eat, or whether any one had been 
good to me. "You just had to take care of 
yourself." The son, feeling the demand of 
hospitality in his father's voice, walked to the 


road with me. He asked if I was walking to 

"Yes, by way of Mount Toxaway and 

He told me it was good walking all the way, 
and added, in a difficult burst of confidence, 
"I am going to Asheville." 

"Why not come along with me?" I asked. 
I meant It heartily. 

He said he had to take horseback, and then 
the railway. He had to be there to-morrow. 

"What's the hurry?" 

"I have to witness in a whisky case, an 
internal revenue case." 

He said it like a Spanish Protestant called 
before the inquisition. 

I said to my soul : "These were the revela- 
tions of a night and a morning. What deeper 
troubles were in the House of the Loom that 
you did not know?" 

All through the country there had been that 
night what is called a black frost. By the 
roadside it was deep and white as the wool on 
a sheep. But it left things blighted and black, 
and destroyed the chances of the fruit-bearing 


trees. All the way to Mount Toxaway I 
met scattered mourners of the ill-timed visita- 

But the simple folly of spring was in me, 
and the strange elation of gratitude. My soul 
said within itself : "A money-claim has definite 
limits, but when will you ever discharge your 
obligation to the proud and the fine in the 
House of the Loom? You intruded on their 
grief. Yet they held their guest sacred as their 
grief/ 5 


WOULD that the joy of living came to-day, 
Even as sculptured on Athena's shrine 
In sunny conclave of serene design, 
Maidens and men, procession flute and feast, 
By Phidias, the ivory-hearted priest 
Of beauty absolute, whose eyes the sun 
Showed goodlier forms than our desires can 

And more of happiness. 



A Not Very Tragic Belapse into the Toils of the World, 
and of Finance. 

HAVING been properly treated as a bunco 
man by systematic piety in a certain city further 
south, I had double-barrelled special recom- 
mendations sent to a lofty benevolence in 
Asheville, from a religious leader of New York, 
the before-mentioned Charles F. Powlison. 

It was with confidence that I bade good-by 
to the chicken-merchant who drove me into 
the city. I entered the office of the black- 
coated, semi-clerical gentleman who had re- 
ceived the Powlison indorsements. My stick 
pounded his floor. The heels of my brogans 
made the place resound. But he gave all 
official privileges. He received me with the 
fine manly handclasp, the glitter of teeth, the 
pat on the back. He insisted I use the shower 
bath, writing room, reading table. Then I 
suggested a conference among a dozen of his 



devouter workers on the relation of the sense 
of Beauty to their present notion of Christianity 
or, if he preferred, a talk on some aspect of art 
to a larger group. 

He took me into his office. He shut the door. 
He was haughty. He made me haughty. I 
give the conversation as it struck me. He 
probably said some smart things I do not 
recall. But I remember all the smart things 
I said. 

He denounced labor agitators in plain words. 
I agreed. I belonged to the brotherhood of 
those who loaf and invite their souls. 

He spoke of anarchy. I maintained that I 
loved the law. 

He very clearly, and at length, assaulted 
Single Tax, I knew nothing then of Single 
Tax, and thanked him for light. He denounced 
Socialism. Knowing little about Socialism at 
that time, I denounced it also, having just 
"been converted to individualism by a man in 

The religious leader spoke of his long experi- 
ence with bunco men. I insisted I wanted not 
a cent from him, I was there to do him good. 
I had letters of introduction to two men in the 


city; one of them, an active worker in the 
organization, had already been in to identify 
me, A third man was coming to climb Mount 
Mitchell with me. 

He doubted that I was a bona fide worker 
in his organization. Then came my only long 
speech. We will omit the speech. But he 
began to see light. He took a fresh grip on 
his argument. He said: "There is a man 
here in Asheville I see snooping around with a 
tin box and a butterfly net. They call him the 
state something-ologist. He goes around and 
and hunts bugs. But do you want to know 
what I think of a crank like that?" I wanted 
to know. He told me. 

"But/ 5 I objected, "I am not a scientist. I 
am an art student." 

He expressed an interest in art. He gave 
a pious and proper view of the nude in art. It 
took some time. It was the sort of chilly, 
cautious talk that could not possibly bring a 
blush to the cheek of ignorance. I assured 
him Ms decorous concessions were unnecessary. 
I was not expounding the nude. 

There was an artist here, and Asheville 
needed no further instruction of the kind, he 


maintained. The gentleman had won some 
blue ribbons in Europe. He painted a big 
picture (dimensions were given) and sold it for 
thousands (price was given). 

"He is holding the next one, two feet longer 
each way, for double the money." 

I told him if he felt there was enough art in 
Asheville, we might do something to popularize 
the poets. 

In reply he talked about literary cranks. 
He spoke of how Thoreau, with his long hair 
and ugly looks, frightened strangers who sud- 
denly met him in the woods. I thanked him 
for light on Thoreau. . . . But he had to 
admit that my hair was short. 

He suspected I was neither artist nor literary 
man. I assured him my friends were often of 
the same opinion. 

"But," he said bitterly, "do you know sir, 
by the tone of letters I received from Mr. PowK- 
son I expected to assemble the wealth and 
fashion of Asheville to hear you. I expected to 
see you first in your private car, wearing a 

I answered sternly, "Art, my friend, does 
not travel in a Pullman." 


He threw off all restraint. "Old shoes," lie 
said, "old shoes/ 5 He pointed at them. 

"I have walked two hundred miles among 
the moonshiners. They wear brogans like 
these." But his manner plainly said that his 
organization did not need cranks climbing over 
the mountains to tell them things. 

"Your New York letter did not say you were 
walking. It said you 'would arrive.'" 

He began to point again. "Frayed trousers ! 
And the lining of your coat in rags !" 

"I took the lining of the coat for necessary 
patches.' 5 

"A blue bandanna round your neck ! 5 ' 

"To protect me from sunburn." 

He rose and hit the table. "And no collar I " 

"Oh yes, I have a collar. 55 I drew it from 
my hip pocket. It had had a two hundred 
mile ride, and needed a bath. 

"I should like to have it laundered, but I 
haven 5 t the money/ 5 

"Get the money." 

"No, 55 1 said, "but I will get a collar. 55 

I entered a furnishing and tailor shop around 
the corner. I asked for the proprietor. He 
showed me collars. 


"Two for a quarter?" 


"'Now I have here a little brochure I sell for 
twenty-five cents. In fact it is a poem, well 
worth the money. I will let you have it for 
half price, that is, one collar." 

"We are selling collars." 

"I am selling the poem/* 

I turned my Ancient Mariner eye on him. 
I recited the most mesmeric rhymes. 

He repeated, "We are selling collars." 

Evidently the eye was out of order. I tried 

"Don't you think I need a collar?" 


"Don't you think this one would fit this 


"I renew my offer." 

He sternly put the box away. 

So I said, "If I must face my friends in 
Asheville without this necessary ornament, you 
shall blush. I have done my duty, and refuse 
to blush," 

I looked up a scholar from Yale, Yutaka 
Minakuchi, friend of old friends, student of 


philosophy, In which he Instructed me much, 
first lending me a collar. He became my host 
in Asheville. It needs no words of mine to 
enhance the fame of Japanese hospitality. . . . 

And I had a friend in a distant place, whom, 
for fancy's sake, we will call the Caliph Haroun- 
al-Raschid. Let him remain a mystery. We 
will reveal this much. Had he known the 
truth, he would have sent Greek slaves riding 
on elephants, laden with changes of raiment. 
He discerned, at least, that I was In a barbarous 
land, for at length a long package containing 
a sword arrived from the court of the Caliph 
(to speak in parables) . I exchanged the weapon 
at a pawnshop for money, all in one bill money 
against which I had so many times sworn 
eternal warfare, which had been my hoodoo 
in the past, and was destined to be again. But 
this time, such are the whims of fate, the little 
while it was with me it brought me only good. 

I entered the furnishing store. The pro- 
prietor was terribly busy, but my glittering 
eye was In condition. I persuaded him, by 
dint of repetition, to show me his collars. I 
treated him as though we had not met. 

"Fifteen cents apiece?" 



"I will take one" I gave the bill. He had 
to send a boy out for the change. I put the 
silver in my pocket, and rattled it. He wrapped 
up the collar, while I studied his cheeks. He 
blushed like a maid, bless his tender heart, and 
in his sweet confusion he knew that I knew it. 

The streets of Asheville kept shouting to me : 
"Let us praise Man, when he builds cities, and 
grows respectable, and cringes to money, and 
becomes a tailor, and loves collars with all 
his heart." 


WOTTLD we were scholars of Confucius* time 
Watching the feudal China crumbling down. 
Frightening our master, shaking many a crown, 
Until he makes more firm the father sages, 
Restoring custom from the earliest ages 
With prudent sayings, golden as the sun. 
Lord, show us safe, august, established ways, 
Fill us with yesterdays. 




IT was a bland afternoon. I had been cross- 
ing a green valley in North Carolina. Every 
man I passed had that languid leanness slander- 
ously attributed to the hookworm by folk who 
have no temperament. Yet some bee of indus- 
try must have stung these fellows into inter- 
mittent effort this morning, yesterday, last 
week or last year. 

Here were reasonably good barns. Here 
were fences, and good fences at that. Here 
were mysterious crops, neither cotton nor corn. 
One man was not ploughing with a mule. No, 
sir. He was ploughing with a sort of horse. . . . 

At last I mounted the northern rim of the 
circle of steep hills that kept the place as sepa- 
rate from the rest of the world as a Chinese 
wall. I met her on the crest. She advanced 
slowly, looking on the ground, leaning at the 
hips as do the very aged, but not grotesquely. 
Her primly made dress and sunbonnet were 


dull dark blue. With her walking-stick she 
meditatively knocked the little stones from 
her path. The staff had a T-shaped head. It 
was the cane Old Mother Hubbard carries in 
the toy book. 

And now she looked up and said with a 
pleasant start, "Why, good evening, young 

"Good evening, kind lady." 
"Where have you been, my son?" 
"Why, I am following my nose to the end 
of the world. I have just walked through this 
enterprising valley." 

She looked into the dust and meditated 
awhile. Then she said : "It's getting late. 
No one has let you in?" 
"No one." 

"How about that house by the bridge?" 
She pointed with her cane. 

"The lady said she had a sick child." 
" Nonsense, nonsense. Do you see that little 
Ardella by that corner of the ploughed field 
near the house? She don't run like a sick 
child. . . . Did you ask at the next place, the 
one that has a green porch?" She pointed 
again with her cane. 


"The woman said she had no spare bed/ 5 

"But she has. I slept in it last week. . . . 
And that last house before you start up this 

"The woman said she had to take care of 
saw-mill hands." 

"Did she tell you that?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

The old lady ruminated again, leaning on 
her stick. At length she said: "Sit down. 
I want to tell you something." There we 
were, Grandmother and newly adopted grand- 
son, on a big sunlit rock. 

I give only the spirit of her words. She 
discoursed in that precious mountain dialect, 
so mediaeval, so Shakespearean with its sur- 
prising phrases that seem at first the slang of 
a literary clan, till one learns they are the 
common property of folk that cannot read. It 
is a manner of speech all too elusive. Would 
that I had kept a note-book upon it ! But 
somewhat to this intent she spoke, and in a 
tone gentler than her words : 

"They thought I would never find out about 
this, or they would not have treated you so. 
That woman in the last house is my daughter- 


in-law. She lias only two saw-mill hands, and 
they're no trouble. That's my house anyway. 
It was my mother's before me. No one dares 
turn strangers away when I am there. There's 
an empty bed up stairs, and another in the hall." 

She turned about and pointed in the direction 
in which I had been walking. "Just ahead of 
you, around that clump of trees, is a hospitable 
family. If they will not take care of you, it is 
because they have a good excuse. If they 
cannot take you in, ask no further. Come 
back to my place, and" (she spoke with a 
Colonial Dame air) " I will make you welcome" 

"What sort of mountaineer is this?" I 
asked myself. "The hospitality is the usual 
thing, but the grandeur is exotic." 

We chatted awhile of the sunset. Then I 
accompanied her to the edge of the hill. 

Under her sacred hair her face retained girl- 
contours. The wrinkles were not too deep. 
She seemed not to have changed as mothers 
often do, when, under decades of inevitable 
sorrow, the features are recarved into the special 
mask of middle age, and finally into the very 
different mask of senility. She had yet the 
authority of Beauty. She wore her white "hair 


with a Quakerish-feminine skill most admirably 
adapted to that ancient forehead. I divined 
she had learned that at sixteen. What a long 
time to be remembering. 

We were spirits that at once met and under- 
stood. She said: "My son, I have walked 
all my life across this valley, or up this hill, or 
toward that green mountain where you are 
going. I never walked as far as I wanted to. 
But walking even so short a path makes for 

Now she laid aside antique grandeur and took 
on plain vanity. 

"Do you know how old I am?" 

"About eighty-five." 

"I'm ninety-two years old, young man, and 
I'm going to live ten years more." 

It was getting late. I said, " I am glad indeed 
to have met you/' 

She answered, "I am sorry my valley has 
not been kind." 

I ventured to ask, "So it's your valley?" 

I had touched a raw nerve. I was com- 
pletely shaken by the suddenness of her answer, 

"Mine! Mine! Mine!" she shrieked. 
Kneeling, she beat up the dust of the road 


with her cane. And then "Mine! Mine! 
Mine!" shaking her outstretched arms over 
that amphitheatre, as though she would drag 
it all to her breast. 

She was out of breath and trembling* At 
length she smiled, and added so quietly it 
seemed another person. "And they shall not 
take it away from me." 

I helped her to her feet. She was once more 
the Martha Washington sort. * . , I remem- 
ber her last sentence. In a royal tone, that was 
three times an accolade, in a motherly tone 
that was caressing and slow she half -sung the 
pretty words : 

"Good evening, young man. I wish you 

The man at the next house took me in. In 
the course of the evening he assured me that 
the old lady did own the valley, and that she 
ruled it with a rod of iron. The family grave- 
yard was full of heirs who had grown to old 
age and died of old age hoping in vain to out- 
live, and to inherit her authority. 


, with the young Norn soul 
That has no peace, and grim as those 
That spun the thread of life, give heed : 
Peace is concealed in every rose. 
And in these petals peace I bring : 
A jewel clearer than the dew : 
A perfume subtler than the breath 
Of Spring with which it circles you. 

Peace I have found, asleep, awake, 
By many paths, on many a strand. 
Peace overspreads the sky with stars. 
Peace is concealed within your hand. 
And when at night I clasp it there 
I wonder how you never know 
The strength you shed from finger-tips : 
The treasure that consoles me so. 

Begin the art of finding peace, 
Beloved : it is art, no less. 



Sometimes we find it bid beneath. 
The orchards in their springtime dress : 
Sometimes one finds it in oak woods, 
Sometimes in dazzling mountain-snows ; 
In books, sometimes. But pray begin 
By finding it within a rose. 



ONE Saturday in May I was hurrying from 
mountainous North Carolina into mountainous 
Tennessee. Because of my speed and air of 
alarm, I was followed by the Seven Suspicions. 
I was either a revenue detective in pursuit 
of moonshiners, or a moonshiner pursued by 
revenue detectives, or a thief hurrying out of 
hot territory, or a deputy sheriff pursuing a 
thief, or a pretended non-combatant hurrying 
toward a Tennessee feud, actually an armed 

1 In the prose sketches in this book I have allowed myself 
a story-teller's license only a little. Sometimes a considerable 
happening is introduced that came the day before, or two days 
after. In some cases the events of a week are told in reverse 

Lady Iron-Heels is obviously a story, but embodies my exact 
impression of that region in a more compressed form than a 
note-book record could have done. 

The other travel-narratives are ninety-nine per cent literal 
fact and one per cent abbreviation. 



recruit, or I had just killed my family's heredi- 
tary enemy and was eluding his avengers, or I 
had bought some moonshine whisky and was 
trying to get out of a bad region before night- 
fall. These suspicions implied that the inhab- 
itants admired me. Yet I hurried. 

I came upon one article of my creed, the very 
next day, Sunday. But Saturday was a season 
of panic, preparation, and trial. 

The article of my creed that I won as my re- 
ward might be stated in this fashion: "Peace 
is to be found, even in a red and bleeding rose" 

I was accustomed to the feudist and the 
assassin. Such people had been good to me, 
and I had walked calmly through their haunts. 
But now the smothering landscape seemed to 
double every natural fear. The hills were so 
steep and so close together that only the in- 
domitable com and rye climbed to the top 
to see the sun. The road was in the bed of a 
scolding rivulet. People in general travelled 
horseback. Cross-logs for those afoot bridged 
high above the streams every half mile. There 
was a primeval something about the heavy 
chains of the cross-logs, binding them to the 
trees, that suggested the forgotten beginning 


of an iron people, some harsh iron- willed Sparta. 
This impression was strengthened by the un- 
painted dwellings, hunched close to the path, 
with thick walls to resist siege. 

What first fixed these outlaws here, as in a 
nest, with a ring of houseless open country 
round them? A traveller was more shut from 
the horizon than in the slums of Chicago. The 
road climbed no summits. It writhed like a 
snake. And there were snakes sunning them- 
selves on every other cross-log. And there was 
never a flower to be seen. 

An old woman, kindly enough, gave this 
beggar a noon-meal for the asking, but the land- 
scape had struck into me so I almost feared to 
eat the bread. For this fear I sternly blamed 
my perverse imagination. Refreshed in body 
only, I crept like a fascinated fly, dragged by 
occult force toward a spider's den. I felt as 
though I had reached the very heart of the 
trap when I stepped into the streets of the pro- 
fane village of Flagpond, Tennessee. 

It was early in the afternoon. The feudal 
warriors had come to the place on horseback, 
dressed in poverty-stricken Saturday finery: 
clothes tight and ill-dyed, with black felt hats 


that should hare slouched, but did not. The 
Immaculate rims stood out in queer precision. 
The wearers sat in front of the three main stores, 
looking across the street at one another. Since 
there was no woman in sight, every one knew 
that the shooting might begin at any time. 
The silence was deadly as the silence of a plague. 
I checked my pace. I ambled in a leisurely way 
from store to store, inquiring the road to Cum- 
berland Gap, the distance to Greenville, and the 
Uke. I was on the other side of the circle of 
dwellings pretty soon, followed by the Seven 
Suspicions, shot from about seventy-five lean 
countenances, which makes about five hundred 
and twenty-five suspicions. 

One of the most indescribable and haunting 
things of that region was that all the women 
and children were dressed in a certain dead- 
bone gray. 

About four o'clock I had made good my 
escape. I had begun to mount rolling, un- 
inhabited hills. At twilight I entered a plain, 
and felt a new kind of civilization round me. 
It would have been shabby in Indiana. Here 
it was glorious. They had whitewashed fences, 
and white-painted cottages, glimmering kindly 


through the dusk. Some farm machinery was 
rusting In the open. I climbed a last year's 
straw-stack, and slept, with acres of stars pour- 
ing down peace. 



Now the story begins all over again with 
the episode of the well-known tailor and the 
unknown florist. Just off the main street of 
Greenville, Tennessee, there is a log cabin with 
the century old inscription, ANDREW JOHNSON, 
TAILOR. That sign is the fittest monument to 
the indomitable but dubious man who could not 
cut the mantle of the railsplitter to fit him. I 
was told by the citizens of Greenville that there 
was a monument to their hero on the hill. So 
I climbed up. It was indeed wonderful a 
weird straddling archway, supporting an obelisk. 
The archway also upheld two flaming funeral 
urns with buzzard contours, and a stone eagle 
preparing to screech. There was a dog-eared 
scroll inscribed, "His faith in the people never 
wavered." Around all was, most appropriately, 
a spiked fence. 


But I was glad I came, because near the 
Tailor's resting-place was a Florist's grave, on 
which depends the rest of this adventure, and 
which reaches back to the beginning of it. It 
had a wooden headstone, marked "John Kenton 
of " Flagpond, Florist. 1870-1900." And in 
testimony to his occupation, a great rosebush 
almost hid the inscription. Any man who 
could undertake to sell flowers in Flagpond 
might have it said of him also, "His faith in 
the people never wavered." 

And now in my tramping the spirit of John 
Kenton, or some other Florist, seemed to lead 
me. My season of panic, preparation, and trial 
was over. It was indeed Sunday on this planet 
for awhile. I passed bush after bush of the 
same sort as that marking Kenton's place of 
sleep. The sight of them was all that I had to 
give me strength till noon. I had had neither 
breakfast nor supper. People would have fed 
this poor tramp, but I love sometimes the 
ecstasy that comes with healthy fasting. And 
now that I reflect upon it, it was indeed ap- 
propriate that the Religion of the Rose should 
begin with abstinence. 

I have burdened you further back with an 


elaborate description of the landscape of Flag- 
pond. Now that landscape was repeated with 
the addition of roses. And what a difference they 
made! They quenched the Seven Suspicions. 
They made gray dresses seem rather tolerable. 
On either side loomed the steepest cornfields 
yet, but they did not make me tremble now. 

At noon I turned aside where a log cabin on 
stilts, leaning against its own chimney, stood 
astride a little gully. It was about as big as a 
dove-cote. Straggling rose-hedges led to the 
green-banked spring at the foot of a ladder that 
took the place of steps. The old lady that came 
to the door was a dove in one respect only ; she 
was dressed in gray. 

She was drawn to the pattern of the tub-like 
peasants of the German funny paper Simpli- 
dssimus. I told her my name was Nicholas. 
She took it for granted that I wanted my dinner, 
and asked me up the ladder without ado. She 
did an unusual thing. She began to talk family 
affairs. "You must be kin to Lawyer Nicholas 
of Flagpond. . . . He defended my son ten 
years ago ... in a trial for murder." 

I said: "I am no kin to Lawyer Nicholas, 
but I hope he won his case." 


"No. My son Is In the state's prison for 
life. . . . He surely killed Florist Kenton/* 
But she added, as if it nullified all guilt, "they 
were both drunk." 

She was busy cooking at the open fireplace. 
She turned to the boy, about ten years old. 
"Call your Ma and your Aunt to dinner." He 
climbed the steep and shouted. Presently two 
figures came over the ridge. The larger woman 
took the boy's hand. 

" Thafs my daughter-in-law, the boy's mother" 
said Mrs. Simplicissimus. 

I judged the second figure to be a woman of 
about twenty-eight. She carried a fence-rail 
on her shoulder. She was straight as an 
Indian. The old woman said : " Thafs my 
daughter. She was going to marry John Ken- 
ton." The only influences that could have 
induced a mountain-woman to unburden so 
much, were the roses, just outside the door, 
leaping in the wind. 

The procession soon reached us. The wood- 
carrier threw the log into the yard. "There's 
firewood/ 5 she sang. She vaulted over the 
fence, displaying iron-heeled brogans, thick red 
stockmgs s and a red-lined skirt. There was a 


smear of earth on cheek and chin. Her face 
was a sunburned, dust-mired roseleaf. She 
swept off her hat. She bowed ironically. She 
said : "Howdy. What might be your name ? " 

I did not tell my name. 

She fell on her knees. She drank from her 
hands at the spring. I could feel the cold water 
warring with the sunshine in her sinews. She 
would never have done with splashing eyelids 
and ears, and cheeks and red arms and throat. 
The rosebushes behind her leaped in the wind. 
The boy and his mother and the grandmother 
knelt at that same place and splashed after that 
same manner. Then the grandmother nudged 

"Wash/ 5 she said. 

I washed. 

We climbed into that dove-cote block-house 
on stilts. We ate like four plough-horses and a 
colt. We consumed corn-bread and fat pork, 
then corn-bread and beans, then corn-bread 
and butter. I ate supper, breakfast, and 
dinner in three quarters of an hour. 




Working a farm of fields that stand on edge, 
without men to help, and without much ma- 
chinery, makes women into warriors or kills 
them. The grandmother and mother were 
no longer women. Even when they caressed 
the boy their faces were furrowed with invincible 
will-power. But Lady Iron-Heels still a woman, 
was confused in the alternative of manhood or 
death. She was indeed a flower not yet torn 
to pieces by the wind, greatly shaken, and there- 
fore blooming the faster. 

There was a red ribbon streaming over the 
gray rag-carpet. Lady Iron-Heels stooped, 
gave the ribbon a jerk, and a banjo came snarl- 
ing from under the bed. 

She sat on the warring colors of the crazy- 
quilt, and played a dance-tune, storming the 
floor with one heel. She grew pensive. She 
sang : 

" We shall rest in the fair and Iiappy land 
Just across on the ever-green shore, 
Sing the song of Moses and the Lamb (by and by) 
And dwell with Jesus evermore.' 5 


Her neck had a yellow handkerchief round 
It. A brown lock swept across her leaping 
throat. Her cheeks and chin were bold as her 
iron heels. Underneath the precious silken 
sunburn, the blood was beating, beating, and 
trying to thicken into manhood to fight off 

After the music the ladies dipped snuff in 
the circle around the dim fire. 


I made a great palaver to Iron-Heels about 
giving me the banjo ribbon. She consented 
easily. Coquetry was not her specialty. 

"What might be your name?" she asked. 

There was no dodging now. The old woman 
spoke up as though to save me pain: "His 
name is Nicholas. But he is no kin to Lawyer 
Nicholas of Flagpond." 

After a long silence the girl said : "We came 
from Flagpond, once upon a time." 

She had been looking out the door at the 
clear bowl of the spring, and the reflection of 
the tall bushes, leaping in the wind. 


I thought to myself : "She herself was John 
Kenton's chief rose." I thought: "He had 
her in mind when he set these ameliorating 
bushes through the wild." Possibly the girl 
could not read or write. Yet she was royal. 

Democracy has the ways of a jackdaw. 
Democracy hides jewels in the ash-heap. De- 
mocracy is infinitely whimsical. Every once 
in a while a changeling appears, not like any of 
the people around, a changeling whose real 
ancestors are aristocratic souls forgotten for 
centuries. As the girl's eyes narrowed 3 she be- 
came Queen Thi, the masterful and beautiful 
potentate of inn-memorial Egypt whose face I 
have seen in a museum, carved on a Canopic 
jar. She was Queen Thi only an instant, then 
she became a Tennessee girl again, with the 
eyes of a weary doe. 

She said: "Them roses give me comfort. 
That's all the church I get/* 

I asked : "Why are there so many roses be- 
tween here and Greenville and none near Flag- 
pond? 55 

It was her turn not to speak. The old woman 
as though to save her pain, answered: "The 
flowers of these parts were all brought in by 


John Kenton. He lived in Flagpond, but 
could not sell them there." 

And the mother of the little boy, the man- 
woman, whose husband had killed Kenton, 
broke her long silence: "The only flowers we 
have to-day are these he brought. I think we 
would die without them. . . . How do we get 
through the winter?" 

Lady Iron-Heels and her sister-in-law took 
a swig of whisky from the jug under the table, 
and lifted up their hoes from the floor. The 
boy whimpered for a drink. They said : "Wait 
till you are a man." All three climbed the hill. 

Lady Iron-Heels was the last to go over the 
ridge. She saw me gather buds from both 
those bushes by the spring. She made a 
gesture of salute with her hoe. 

I never travelled that way again. I passed 
by quickly; therefore I had a glimpse of what 
she was intended to be. "He that loseth his 
life shall find it." I see her many a time when 
I am looking on scattered rose-leaves. She 
was a woman, God's chief rose for man. She 
was scorned and downtrodden, but radiant still. 
I am only saying that she wore the face of 
Beauty when Beauty rises above circumstance. 


The buds that I had gathered did not fall to 
pieces till I had passed by Daniel Boone's old 
trail on through Cumberland Gap, on over big 
hill Kentucky into the Blue Grass. On the 
way I wrote this, their poor memorial, the 
Canticle of the Rose : 

It is an article of my creed that the petals of 
this flower of which we speak are a medicine, 
that they can almost heal a mortal wound. 

The rose is so young of face and line, she ap- 
pears so casually and humbly, we forget she is 
an ancient physician. 

Yet so much tradition is wrapped around her 
stalk, it is strange she is not a mummy. Her 
ashes can be found in the tombs of the Pharaohs, 
in everlasting companionship with the ashes 
of the lotus and the papyrus plant. Her dust 
travels on every desert wind. 

No love-song can do without her. 

No soldier and no priest can scorn her. There 
were the Wars of the Roses. And there was a 
Rose in Sharon. Our wandering brother Dante 
found a great rose in Paradise. 

There are white roses, sweet ghosts under 
the pine. There are yellow roses, little suns 
in the shadow. But the normal bloom is red, 


flushed with foolish ardors, laughing, shaking 
off the gossamer years. She remembers Love, 
but not too well, if love is pain. There is no 
yesterday that can daunt her and keep her dear 
heart-laughter down. In springtime her magic 
petals bring God to the weary and give Heaven's 
strength to the wavering of heart. 

She can turn the slave to a woman, the 
woman to something a little more than mor- 
tal. Oh, how bravely, with the same life- 
giving red, with the last of her virgin strength, 
she blooms and blooms on almost every high- 
way. We find her on the road to Benares, on 
the road to Mecca, on the road to Rome, and 
on the road to Nowhere, in Tennessee. 

Her red petals can almost heal a mortal 




BEHOLD the Pharisees, proud, rich, and damned, 
Boasting themselves in lost Jerusalem, 
Gathered a weeping woman to condemn. 
Then watching curiously, without a sound 
The God of Mercy, writing on the ground. 
How looked his sunburned face beneath the sun 
Flushed with his Father's mighty angel- wine ? 
God make us all divine. 



I HAD walked twelve miles before noon. 
Then I had eaten four slices of bread and butter 
on merciful doorsteps. At four-thirty, having 
completed twenty-one miles, I entered the richest 
village in the United States, a village that is 
located in New Jersey. I was so weary I was 
ready to sleep in the gutter, and did not care 
if the wagons ran over me. I should have 
walked through to the green fields before I 
looked for hospitality. I knew that the well- 
meant deeds of the city cannot equal the kind- 
ness of the most commonplace farm-hand. 
Yet I lingered. 

I purchased a feast of beefsteak and onions 
at an obscure Jewish restaurant and felt myself 
once more a man. But it was now too late to 
leave town. The rule of the country is one 



must ask for Ms night's lodging before five 
o'clock. After that, things are growing dark, 
and people may be afraid of you. 

After paying for beefsteak and onions, I had 
twenty-five cents. This twenty-five cents was 
all that remained after a winter's lecturing on 
art and poetry in Manhattan. I am satisfied 
that the extra money, over and above all paid 
debts, brought me some of the ill-luck of the 
night. As I have before observed, money is a 
hoodoo on the road. Until a man is penniless 
he is not stripped for action. 

A sign at the lunch-counter advertised : 
"Furnished rooms, fifty cents." 

I asked the proprietor to cut the price. He 
dodged the issue. "Say, why don't you go up 
there to the mission ? They will sell you a good 
bed cheap." 

"For a quarter?" 

"Something like that." 

"Show me the place." 

As of old the Jew pointed out the way of 
salvation. The Gentile followed it and reached 
the dwelling-place of Faith, Hope, and Charity. 

"What do you want?" The questioner, 
evidently in charge of the place, was accoutred 


in stage laboring-man style. Maybe Ms para- 
phernalia was intended to put Mm on a level 
with wayfarers. He wore a slouch hat, a soft 
shirt, and no necktie. His clothes had the store 
freshness still. They looked rather presumptu- 
ous in that neat, well-stocked reading room. 

"I want a cheap bed." 

"We do not seU beds." 

"I was told you did." 

"We give them away." 

"All right." 

"But you have to work." 

"Very well." 

" Do you want to leave early in the morning ? " 
(The place was evidently a half-way house for 

" Yes. I want to leave early in the morning. " 

"Then you will have to split kindling two 
hours to-night." 

"Show me the kindling." 



In the basement I throned myself on one 
block while I chopped kindling on another. 


Before me, piled to the first story, was a cellar! ul 
of wood, the record of my predecessors in toil. 
I gathered that the corporal's guard of the un- 
employed who stayed at the mission that night, 
and had been there two or three days, had 
finished their day's assignment of splitting. 
They completely surrounded me, questioned 
me with the greatest curiosity, and put me 
down as a terrific liar, for I answered every 
question with simple truth. 

As soon as the melodramatic workingman-boss 
went up stairs, one of them said, "Don't work 
so fast. It's only a matter of form this late at 
night. They want to see if you are willing, 
that's aU." 

I chopped a little faster for this advice. Not 
that I was out of humor with the advisers, 
though I should have been, for they were box- 
car tramps. 

One of them, having an evil and a witty eye, 
said, "If I was goin' west like you, I'd start 
about ten o'clock to-night and be near Buffalo 
before morning." 

Another, a mild nobody, professed himself a 
miller. He told what a wonderful trick it was 
to say, "Leddy, I'm too tired to work till I eat," 
and after eating, to walk away. 


The next, a carriage painter of battered 
gentility, told endless stories of the sprees that 
had destroyed him. Another, a white frog with 
a bald head and gray mustache, quite won my 
heart. He said, "Wait till you get a nice warm 
bath after service. Then you'll sleep good." 

To my weary and addled brain the mission 
was like one of those beautiful resting-places 
in Pilgrim's Progress. It became my religion, 
just to split kindling. I failed to apprehend 
what infinitesimal nobodies these fellows around 
me were. I should have disliked them more. 

The modern tramp is not a tramp, he is a 
speed-maniac. Being unable to afford lux- 
uries, he must still be near something mechanical 
and hasty, so he uses a dirty box-car to whirl 
from one railroad-yard to another. He has no 
destination but the cinder-pile by the water- 
tank. The landscape hurrying by in one indis- 
tinguishable mass and the roaring of the car- 
wheels in his ears are the ends of life to him. 
He is no back-to-nature crank. He is a most 
highly specialized modern man. All to keep 
going, he risks disease from these religious 
missions, from foul box-cars, and foul comrades. 
He risks accident every hour. He Is always 


liable to the cruelty of conductor or brakeman 
and to murder by companions. 

He runs fewer risks in the country, yet Ms aver- 
sion to the country is profound. He knows all 
that I know about country hospitality, that it 
2an be purchased by the merest grain of cour- 
tesy. Yet most of the farm-people that enter- 
tained me had not seen a tramp for months. 

To account for some of the happenings of this 
tale I will only add that a speed-maniac at either 
end of the social scale is not necessarily a 
bustler, personally. But in one way or another 
tie is sure to be shallow and artificial, the gro- 
tesque, nervous victim of machinery. And a 
"Mission," an institution built by speed- 
maniacs who use automobiles for speed-maniacs 
who use box-cars, is bound to be absurd beyond 
words to tell it. 



I loved all men that night, even the fellow in 
melodramatic laboring-man costume, who ap- 
peared after two hours to drive us animals up 
stairs into one corner of the chapel, where a 


dozen of our kind had already assembled from 

On the far side of that chapel sat the money- 
fed. The aisle was a great gulf between them 
and us. I smiled across the gulf indulgently, 
imagining by what exhortations to "Come and 
help us in our problem " those uncomfortable 
persons had been assembled. An unmitigated 
clergyman rose to read a text. 

I presume this clergyman imagined Christ 
wore a white tie and was on a salary promptly 
paid by some of our oldest families. But I 
share with the followers of St. Francis the vision 
of Christ as a man of the open road* improvident 
as the sparrow. I share with the followers of 
Tolstoi the opinion that when Christ pro- 
claimed those uncomfortable social doctrines, 
he meant what he said. 

The clergyman read : "Blessed are the poor 
in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." 

"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall 
be comforted." 

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit 
the earth." 

He read much more than I will quote. Here 
is the final passage : 


"Ye have heard tow It hath been said : ' An 
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 5 But I 
say unto you that you resist not evil. But 
whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, 
turn to him the other also. And if any man will 
sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, 
let Mm have thy cloak also. And whosoever 
shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 
Give to him that asketh thee, and to Mm that 
would borrow of thee, turn not thou away." 

This Pharisee smugly assumed that he was 
authorized by the Deity to explain away this 
scripture. And he did it, as the reader has heard 
it done many a time. 

The Pharisee was followed by a fat Scribe who 
tried to smile away what the other fellow had 
tried to argue away. The fat one then called 
on the assembly to bow, and exhorted the re- 
pentant to hold up their hands to be prayed for. 

I held up my hand. Was I not eating the 
bread of the mission? And then I felt like a 
sinner anyway. 

"Thank God," said the fat one. 

After a hymn, testimonies were called for. I 
felt the spirit move me, but some one had the 
floor. Across the gulf she stood, an exceedingly 


well-dressed and blindly devout sister. She 
glanced with a terrified shrinMng at the animals 
she hoped to benefit. She said : 

"There has been one great difficulty in my 
Christian life. It came with seeking for the 
Spirit. Sometimes we think it has come with 
power, when we are simply stirred by our own 
selfish desires. Our works will show whether 
we are moved by the Spirit. 59 

I wanted to preach them a sermon on St. 
Francis. But how could I? There was still 
a quarter in my own pocket* Meanwhile there 
rose a saint with a pompadour and blocky jaws. 
He was distinctly inferior in social position to a 
great part of the saints. It was probable he 
had given that testimony many times. But 
he did not want the meeting to drag. He spake 
in a loud voice : "I was saved from a drunk" 
ard's life, in this mission, eighteen years ago, 
and ever since, not by my own power, but by 
the grace of God, I have been leading a God- 
fearing and money-making life in this town, 5 ' 
That was his exact phrase, "a money-making 
life." His intention was good, but he should 
have been more tactful. The Pharisee looked 



I advise all self-respecting citizens to skip 
this section. It is notMng but over-strained, 
shabby farce. 

The throng melted. Scribe and Pharisee, 
Dives, Mrs. Dives, and their satellites went home 
to their comfortable beds. Many of the roughs 
on our side of the house found somewhere else 
to stay. The fellow dressed like a workingman 
in a melodrama sought the consolations of his 
own home. Had the last authority departed ? 
Were we to have anarchy? The Frog, in his 
gentlest manner, sidled up to make friends 

" Now you can have your nice warm bath, you 
two/ 5 I looked around. There were two of 
us then. Beside me, fresh from a box-car was 
a battered scalawag. The Frog must have let 
him in at the last moment. 

We three climbed to the bath-room. 

"Wait a minute/' said the Amphibian. He 
disappeared. I opened my eyes, for this crea- 
ture spake with a voice of authority. The box- 
car scalawag grinned sheepishly. 


There was a scuffling overhead, a scratch and 
a rumble. We two looked up just In time to 
dodge the astonishing vision of a clothes-horse 
descending through a trap-door by a rope. At 
the upper end of the rope was the absurd bald 
head of our newly achieved superintendent. 

"Hello, Santy Glaus," said the box-car 
tramp. "Whose Christinas present is this?'* 

The Frog shouted : "Put your shoes and hats 
in the corner. If you have any tobacco, put 
it in your shoes. Hang everything else on the 

I obeyed, except that I had no tobacco. The 
rascal by my side had a plenty, and sawdusted 
the bath-room floor with some of it, and the 
remainder went into his foot-gear. Then we 
two, companions in nakedness, watched the 
Frog haul up our clothes out of sight. He 
closed the trap-door with many grunts. 

Then this Amphibian, this boss, descended 
and entered the bath-room. He was a dry- 
land Amphibian. He had never taken a bath 
himself, but was there to superintend. He 
seemed to feel himself the accredited representa- 
tive of all the good people behind the mission, 
and no doubt he was. 


"Can it be possible/' I asked myself, "that 
they have chosen this creature to apply their 

The Frog said to my companion: "Git in 
the tub." 

Then he turned on the water, regulated the 
temperature, and watched as though he ex- 
pected one of us to steal the faucets from the 
wash-bowl. He threw a gruesome rag at the 
tramps and allowed him to scrub himself. The 
creature bathing seemed well-disposed toward 
the idea, and had put soap on about one-third 
of his person when the Frog shouted : "I've got 
to get up at four-thirty/' 

The scalawag took the hint and rose like 
Venus from the foam. He splashed off part of 
it, and rubbed off the rest with a towel that was 
a fallen sister of the wash-rag. 

The Frog was evidently trying to enforce, in a 
literal way, regulations he did not understand. 
He wiped out the bath-tub most carefully with 
the unclean wash-rag. Then he provided the 
scalawag with a shirt for night-wear. The 
creature put it OIL and said : 

"Ain't I a peach?" 

He was. 


The nightie was an old, heavily-starched 
dress-shirt, once white. Maybe it had once 
been worn by the Scribe or the Pharisee. But 
it had not been washed since. The rascal cut 
quite a figure as he took long steps down the 
corridor to bed, piloted by the hurrying Am- 
phibian. He was a long-legged rascal, and the 
slivered remainders of that ancient shirt flapped 
about him gloriously. 

I was hustled into the tub after the rascal. 
I was supervised after the same manner. "Now 
wash/* boomed the Amphibian. He threw at 
me the sloppy rag of my predecessor. 

I threw it promptly on the floor. 

"I don't use a wash-rag/' I said. 

"Hurry/* croaked the Frog. And "he let the 
water out of the tub. He handed me the towel 
the scalawag had used. I had not, as a matter 
of fact, had a bath, and I was quite footsore. 

"I do not want that towel," I said. 

"You're awful fancy, aren't you?" sneered 
the Frog. 

Wherever I was damp, I rubbed myself dry 
with ray bare hands, being skilled in the matter, 
meanwhile reflecting that there is nothing worse 
than a Pharisee except a creature like this. I 


wondered if it was too late to rouse a mob among 
the better element of the town, neither saints 
nor sinners, but just plain malefactors of great 
wealth, and have this person lynched. There 
were probably multi-Tn illionnaires in this town 
giving ten-dollar bills to this mission, who were 
imagining they were giving a free bath to some- 

I wanted to appeal to some man with mani- 
cured hands who had grown decently rich 
robbing the widow and the orphan and who now 
had the leisure to surround himself with the 
appurtenances of civility and the manners of a 

"I am through with the poor but honest sub- 
merged tenth. Rich worldlings for mine," I 

"Put these on," squeaked the Frog. His 
manner said, "See how good we are to you." 
He held out the treasure of the establishment, 
a night-garment retained for fastidious new- 
arrivals, newly-bathed. Of course, no one else 
was supposed to bathe. 

Was the garment he held out a slivered shirt ? 
Nay, nay. It was a sort of pajama combina- 
tion. Hundreds of men had found shelter, 


taken a luxurious bath, and put them on. They 
were companions in crime of the towel and the 
wash-rag. Let us suppose that three hundred 
and sixty-five men wore them a year. In ten 
years there would have been about three thou- 
sand six hundred and fifty bathed men in them. 
That did not account for their appearance. 

"What makes them so dirty?" I asked. 

No answer. 

"Can't I wear my underclothes to bed in- 
stead of these ? " 




"What do you mean by sulphur?" 

"Your clothes are up stairs being fumigated." 

"Can*t I get my socks to-night? I always 
wash them before I go to bed." 

"No. It's against the law of the state. And 
you would dirty up these bowls. I have just 
scrubbed them out/* 

"I will wash them out afterward." 

"I haven't time to wait. I must get up at 

"But why fumigate my clean underwear, and 
give me dirty pajamas ? " 


The Frog was getting flabbergasted. "I 
tell you It's the law of New Jersey. You are 
getting awful fancy. If I had had my way, 
you would never have been let in here." 

h Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit 
the earth/' I said to myself, and put on the 

This insanitary director showed me my bed. 
It was in a long low room with all the windows 
closed, where half a score were asleep. The 
sheets had never, never, never been washed. 
Why was it that in a mission so shiny in its 
reading room, and so devout in its chapel, so 
melodramatic with its clean workman-boss, in 
the daytime, these things were so ? 

The lights went out. I kicked off the pajamas 
and slept. I awoke at midnight and reflected 
on all these matters. I quoted another scrip- 
ture to myself : "I was naked, and ye clothed 


At six o'clock I was called for breakfast. 
My sulphur-smelling clothes were on my bed. 


I put them on with a light heart, for after all I 
had slept well, and my feet were not stiff. The 
quarter was still in my trousers' pocket. I 
presume that hoodoo quarter had something to 
do with the bad breakfast. 

The Amphibian was now cook. He gave each 
man a soup-plate heaped with oat-meal. If it 
had been oats, it would have been food for so 
many horses. Had the Frog been up since four 
thirty preparing this ? 

The price of part of that horse-feed might 
have gone into something to eat. There was a 
salty blue sauce on it that was called milk. 
And there was dry bread to be had, without 
butter, and as much bad coffee as a man could 

A person called the bookkeeper arrived with the 
janitor. I made my formal farewells to those 
representatives of the law, before whom the 
Amphibian melted with humility. The scala- 
wag who had bathed with me tipped me a wink, 
and tried to escape in my company. But I 
bade "him good-by so firmly that the authorities 
noticed, and the brash creature remained glued 
to his chair. He probably had to do his full 
share of kindling before he escaped. 


I went forth from that place into the highway 
of our God, who dwelleth not in temples made 
with hands, neither is worshipped with men's 
hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He 
giveth to all men life and breath and all things. 

I said in my heart : "I shall walk on and on 
and find a better, a far holier shrine than this 
at the ends of the infinite earth. 35 

(Springfield, Illinois) 

Is it for naught that where the tired crowds see 
Only a place for trade, a teeming square, 
Doors of Mgt portent open unto me 
Carved with g. jat eagles, and with hawthorns 
rare ? 

Doors I proclaim, for there are rooms forgot 
Ripened through aeons by the good and wise : 

Walls set with Art's own pearl and amethyst 
Angel- wrought hangings there, and heaven-hued 
dyes : 

Dazzling the eye of faith, the hope-filled heart : 
Rooms rich in records of old deeds sublime : 

Books that hold garnered harvests of far lands, 

Pictures that tableau Man's triumphant climb : 

Statues so white, so counterfeiting life, 
Bronze so ennobled* so with glory fraught 
That the tired eyes must weep with joy to see 

And the tired mind in Beauty's net be caught. 


Come enter there, and meet To-morrow's Man, 
Communing with Mm softly day by day. 
Ah, the deep vistas he reveals, the dream 

Of angel-bands in infinite array 

Bright angel-bands, that dance in paths of earth 
"When our despairs are gone, long overpast 
When men and maidens give fair hearts to Christ 
And white streets flame in righteous peace at 



I WALKED across the bridge from New Jersey 
into Easton, Pennsylvania, one afternoon. I 
discovered there was a college atop of the hill. 
In exchange for a lecture on twenty-six great 
men l based on a poem on the same theme, 
that I carried with me, the boys entertained me 
that night. They did not pay much attention 
to the lecture. Immediately before and after 
was a yell carnival. There was to be a game 
next day. They were cheering the team and 
the coach with elaborate reiteration. All was 

But for all this the boys spoke to me gently, 
gave me the privileges of the table, the bath- 
room,, the dormitory. The president of the 
Y. M. C. A. lent me a clean suit of pajamas. 
He and two other young fellows delighted my 

1 Portions of this poem are scattered through, this book for 
interludes. Others are already printed in General Booth and 
Othef Poems. 



vain soul, by keeping me up late reciting all 
the poems I knew. 

I record these things for the sake of recording 
one thing more, the extraordinary impression of 
buoyancy that came from that school. It was 
inspiring to a degree, a draught of the gods. 
Coming into that place not far from the centre 
of hard-faced Easton-town I realized for the 
first time what sheltered, nurtured boy-America 
was like, and what wonders may lie beneath the 
roofs of our cities. 


WOULD I might rouse the Caesar in you all, 
(That which men hail as king., and bow them 


Till you are crowned, or you refuse the crown. 
Would I might wake the valor and the pride, 
The eagle soul with which he soared and died, 
Entering grandly then the fearful grave. 
God help us build the world, like master-men, 
God help us to be brave. 



LEAVING New Jersey I kept from all contact 
with money, and was consequently turning 
over in memory many delicious adventures 
among the Pennsylvania-German farmers. 
After crossing that lovely, lonely plateau called 
Pocono Mountain, I descended abruptly to 
Wilkesbarre by a length of steep automobile 
road called Giant Despair. 

It was a Sunday noon in May. Wilkesbarre 
was a mixture of Sabbath calm and the smoke 
of torment that ascendeth forever. One passed 
pious faces too clean, sooty faces too restless. 
I hurried through, hoping for more German 
farmers beyond. But Bang Coal had conspired 
against the traveller, and would not let him go. 
The further west I walked, the thicker the 
squalor and slag heaps, and the presence of 
St. Francis seemed withdrawn from me, though 
I had been faithful in ray fashion. 

King Coal is a boaster. He says he furnishes 


food for all the engines of the earth. He says 
he is the maker of steam. He says steam is the 
twentieth century. He holds that an infinite 
number of black holes in the ground is a 

He may say what he likes, but he has not 
excused himself to me. He blasts the landscape. 
Never do human beings drink so hard to forget 
their sorrow as in the courtyards of this mon- 
arch. To dig in a mine makes men reckless, to 
own one makes them tormentors. 

I had a double reason for hurrying on. My 
rules as a mendicant afoot were against cities 
and railroads. I flattered myself I was called 
and sent to the agricultural laborer. 

When the land grew less black and less in- 
habited, I mistakenly rejoiced, assuming I 
should soon strike the valleys where grain is 
sown and garnered. Yet the King was follow- 
ing me still, like a great mole underground. 
There was no coal on the surface. The land was 
rusty-red and ashen-gray, as though blasted 
by the torch of a Cyclops and only yesterday 
cooled by the rain. The best grain that could 
have been scattered among such rocks with the 
hope of a crop was a seed of dragons' teeth. 


How long the desolation continued ! Toward 
the end of the day in the midst of the nothing- 
ness, I came upon a saloon full of human crea- 
tures roaring drunk. Otherwise there was not 
so much as a shed in sight. 

Four vilely dirty little girls came down the 
steps carrying beer. One of them, too intoxi- 
cated for her errand, entrusted her can to her 
companions. They preceded me toward the 
smoke-veiled sun by a highway growing black 
again with the foot-prints of the Eang. 

Now there was a deafening explosion. I sat 
down on a rock examining myself to see if I was 
still alive. The children pattered on. My 
start seemed to amuse them immensely. I 
followed toward the new civil war, or whatever 
it was. 

Just over the crest and around the corner I 
encountered the King's never-varying insignia, 
the double-row of " company houses." 

Every dwelling was as eternally and uniformly 
damned as its neighbor, making the eyes ache, 
standing foursquare in the presence of the in- 
sulted daylight. Every porch and railing was 
jig-sawed in the same ruthless way. Every 
front yard was grassless. Everything was made 


of wood, yet seemed made of Iron, so black it 
was, so long had It stood in the wasting weather, 
so steadily had it resisted the dynamite now 

shaking the earth. 

There they stood, thirty houses to the left, 
thirty to the right, with what you might call a 
street between, whose ruts were seemingly cut 

by the treasure-chariots of the brimstone 
princes of the nether world. 

Two-thirds of the way through, several 
young miners were exploding giant powder. 
As I approached I saw another was loading his 

pistol with ball-cartridges and shooting over 
the hills at the sun. He did not put it out. 

The group of children with the beer served 
these knights of dynamite, holding up the cans 
for them to drink. The little cup-bearers were 
then given pennies. They scurried home. 

By their eyes and queer speech I guessed that 
these children were Poles, or of some other race 
from Eastern Europe. I guessed the same 
about the men celebrating. Every porch on 
both sides of that street held some heavy headed 
creatures from presumably the same foreign 
parts. They were, no doubt, good citizens 
after their peculiar fashion, but with counte- 


nances that I could not read. Though the next 
explosion seemed to jolt the earth out of Its 
orbit, they merely blinked. 

I said to myself , "This is not the fourth of 
July. Therefore it must be the anniversary 
of the day when * Freedom shrieked' and c Ko- 
sciuszko fell. ' " 

I reached the end of the street ; nothing be- 
yond but a hollow of hills and a dubious river, 
enclosing a new Tophet, that I learned after- 
wards was Shickshinny. It was late. I wanted 
to get beyond to the green fields. 

I zigzagged across that end of the street to 
folk on the front porches that I thought were 
Americans. Each time I vainly attempted con- 
versation with some dumb John SobiesM in 
Sunday clothes. I wondered what were the 
Polish words for bread, shelter, and dead broke. 



Some spick and span people came out on the 
porch of the last house. Possibly they could 
understand English. I went closer. They were 
out and out Americans. 


So I looked them in the eye and said: "I 
would like to have you entertain me to-night. 
I am a sort of begging preacher. I do not take 
money, only food and lodging. " 

"A beggin' preacher?" 

" My sermon is in poetry. I can read it to you 
after supper, if that will suit." 

"What sort of poetry?" asked the man. 

"I can only say it is my own." 

"Why I just LOVE poetry/' said the woman. 
"Come in." 

" Come up," said the man 3 and hustled out a 

"I'll go right in and get supper/ 9 said the wife. 
She was a breezy creature with a loud musical 
voice. She doubtless developed it by trying 
to talk against giant powder. 

I told the man my story, in brief. 

After quite a smoke, he said, "So you've 
walked from Wilkesbarre this afternoon. Why, 
man, that's seventeen miles." 

I do not believe it was over fourteen. 

He continued, "I'm awful glad to see a white 
man. This place is full of Bohunks, and Slavs, 
and Rooshians, and Poles and Lickerishes 
(Lithuanians?). They're not bad to have 


around, but they ain't Caucasians. They all 
talk Eyetalian." 

The fellow's manner breathed not only race- 
fraternity, but industrial fraternity. It had 
no suggestion of sheltered agricultural caution. 
It was sophisticated and anti-capitalistic. It 
said, "You and I are against the system. 
That's enough for brotherhood." 

Now that he stood and refilled Ms pipe from a 
tobacco box nailed just inside the door, I saw 
him as in a picture-frame. He had powerful 
but slanting shoulders. He was so tall he must 
needs stoop to avoid the lintel. With his bent 
neck, he looked as though he could hold up a 
mine caving in. His general outlines seemed 
to be hewn from fence-rails, then hung with 
grotesque muscles of loose leather. His eye- 
brows were grown together. From looking 
down long passageways his eyes were marvel- 
lously owl-like. He was cadaverous. He had 
a beak nose. He had a retreating chin but, 
breaking the rules of phrenology, he managed 
to convey the impression of a driving personal- 
ity. He looked like an enormous pickaxe. 

He calmly commented: "Them Polacks 
waste powder awful. Not only on Sunday, for 


fun, but down in the mine they use twice too 

much. And they can't blast the hardest coal, 
either. . . . And they're always gettin' care- 
less and blowin' themselves to hell and every- 
body else. It's awful, it's awful/ 5 he said, 
but in a most philosophic tone. 

He lowered his voice and pointed with his 
pipe stem : "Them people that live in the next 
house are supposed to be Cawcasians, but they 
haven't a marriage license. They let their 
little girl go for beer this afternoon, for them 
fellows explodin' powder over there. 'Taint 
no way to raise a child. That child's mother 
was a well-behaved Methodist till she married 
a Polack, and had four children, and he died, 
and they died, and some say she poisoned them 
all. Now she's got this child by this no-ac- 
count white man. They live without a license, 
like birds. Yet they eat off weddin V 

"Eat off weddings?" 

"Yes/' he said. " These Bohunks and Licker- 
ishes all have one kind of a wedding. It lasts 
three days and everybody comes. The best 
man is king. He bosses the plates.** 

"Bosses the plates?" 

"Yes. They buy a lot of cheap plates* 


Every man that comes must break a plate with 
a dollar. The plate is put in the middle of 
the floor. He stands over it and bangs the 
dollar down. If he breaks the plate he gets 
to kiss and hug the bride. If he doesn't break 
it, the young couple get that dollar. He must 
keep on givin' them dollars in this way till he 
breaks the plate. Eats and plates and beer 
cost about fifty dollars. The young folks clear 
about two hundred dollars to start life on/* 

"And/' he continued, "the folks next door 
make a practice of eatin' round at weddings 
without puttin' down their dollars." 

I began to feel guilty. 

"It's a good deal like my begging supper and 
breakfast of you/ 5 He hadn't meant it that 
way. "No/ 5 he said, "you're takin 9 the only 
way to see the country. Why, man, I used to 
travel like you, before I was married, except 
I didn't take no book nor poetry nor nothing 
and wasn't af eered of box-cars the way you are. 
... I been in every state in the Union but 
Maine. I don't know how I kept out of there. 
. . . I've been nine years in this house. I 
don't know but what I see as much as when I 
was on the go. ... 


"That fellow Gallic over there that was 
shootin 5 that pistol at the sky killed a man 
named Bothweinis last year and got off free. 
It was Gallic's wedding and Bothweinis brought 
fifty dollars and said he was goin' to break all 
the plates in the house. He used up twelve 
dollars. He broke seven plates and kissed the 
bride seven times. Then the bride got drunk. 
She was only fifteen years old. She hunted 
up Bothweinis and kissed him and cried, and 
Gallic chased him down towards Shiekshinny 
and tripped Mm up, and shot Mm in the 
mouth and in the eye. . . . The bride didn't 
know no better. . . . He was an awful sight 
when they brought him in. The bride was 
only a kid. These Bohunk women never learn 
no sense anyway. They're not smart like 
Caucasian women, and they fade in the face 

He reflected: <c My wife's a wonderful 
woman. I have been with her nine years, and 
she learns me something every day, and she 
still looks good in her Sunday clothes." 

He became lighter in tone again. "What 
these Bohunks need is a priest and a church to 
make them behave. They mind a priest some, 


if lie Is a good priest. They're all Catholics, or 
no church. . . .** 

<e Seems though sometimes a man's GOT to 
shoot. Some of them devils over there used to 
throw rocks at my door, but one Sunday 1 
filled 'em full of buckshot and they quit. The 
justice upheld me. I didn't have to pay no 
fine. They've been pretty good neighbors since, 
pretty good neighbors." 

There was a sound as though the flagstones of 
eternity had been ripped up. He saw I didn't 
like it and said consolingly, "They'll stop and 
go to supper pretty soon. They eat too much 
to do anything but set, afterwards. They don't 
have nothin' to eat in the old country but raw 
turnips. Here they stuff themselves like toads. 
I don't see how they save money the way they 
do. The mine owners squeeze the very life out 
of *em and they wallow in beer. I've always 
made big money, but somehow never kept it. 
Me and my wife are spenders. But I ain't 
afraid, for I am the only man on the street that 
can dig the hardest coal. I could dig my way 

out of hell with my pick, and by G once 

I did it, too." 

The wife came to the door newly decked in an 


elaborate lace waist, torn, alas, at the shoulder. 
Husband was right. She looked good. She 
announced radiantly ; "Come to supper.' 5 

Then she rushed down between the houses 
and shouted: "Jimmy and Frank, come here! 
"What you doin 5 ? Get down off that roof. 
What you doin', assoeiatin' with them Polack 
children? What you doin* with them 
switches?" Then she swore heartily, as unto 
the Lord, and continued, "They're helpin' them 
Polack kids switch that poor little drunk 
American child. Come down off that coal 

They slunk into sight. She snatched their 
switches from them. 

"Who started it?" 

Jimmy admitted he started it. He looked 
capable of starting most anything, good or bad. 
He had eyes like black diamonds, a stocky frame, 
and the tiny beginnings of his mother's voice. 

"I don't know whether to lick you or not/' 
she said judicially. Finally: "Go up to bed 
without supper." 

Jimmy went. 

She addressed us in perfect good humor, as a 
musical volcano might : " Come and eat." 




Never did I see beefsteak so thick. There 
was a garnish of fried onions. There was a 
separate sea of gravy. There was a hill of 
butter, a hill of thickly sliced bread. There was 
a delectable mountain of potatoes. That was 
all. These people were living the simple life, 
living it in chunks. 

At table, as everywhere, the husband solemnly 
deferred to the wife. She was to him a druid 
priestess. And so she was radiant, as woman 
enthroned is apt to be. Of course, no young 
lady from finishing school would have liked the 
way we tunnelled and blasted our way through 
the provender. We were gloriously hungry and 
our manners were a hearty confession of the 

My passion for the joys of the table partially 
sated, I began to realize the room. There were 
hardly any of the comforts of home. There 
was a big onyx time-piece, chipped, and not 
running. Beside it was a dollar alarm-clock 
in good trim. 

There were in the next room, among other 


things, two frail gilt parlor chairs, almost black. 
The curtains were streaked with soot and poorly 
ironed. Site said she had washed them yester- 
day. But, she continued, "I just keep cheer- 
ful, I don't keep house. Doesn't seem like I 
can, this street is so awful dirty and noisy and 

"Yet you like it," said the husband. 

"Yes," she said, "that's because I'm half 
Irish. The Irish were born for excitement." 

" What's your ancestry ? " I asked the husband. 

"My father was a mountain white. Moved 
here from North Carolina, and dug coal and 
married a Pennsylvania Dutch lady." 

"It's your turn," she said to me. "You are 
a preacher?" 

"That's a kind of an excuse I make." 

"You can't be any worse than the preacher 
we had here," continued the wife. "He lived 
down toward Shickshinny. He preached in an 
old chapel. He wouldn't start a Sunday school. 
We needed one bad enough. He just married 
folks. He hardly ever buried them. They say 
he was afraid. And," she continued, with a 
growing tone of condemnation, " it's a preacher's 
BUSINESS to face death. 


"Just about the time two of our children 
died of diphtheria, was when he came to these 
parts. He was a Presbyterian, and I was raised 
a Presbyterian, and he wouldn't preach the 
funeral of my two babies. He promised to 
come, and we waited two hours. So I just 
read the Bible at the grave. 3 * 

This she recounted with a bitter sense of 

"And the same day he locked up his mother, 

"Locked up his mother?' 5 

"Yes. Some said he wanted to visit a woman 
he didn't want her to know about. They said 
he was afraid she would follow him and spy. 
He locked up the old Iady s and she about yelled 
the roof off, and the neighbors let her out. 

"And then/' continued my hostess, "when 
he was dying, he sent for a Wilkebsarre 

"Sent for a priest?" I exclaimed, com- 
pletely mystified. 

"Yes," she whispered. "He must have been 
a Catholic all the time. And the priest wouldn't 
come either. That's what that old preacher got 
for being so mean." 


She continued : " That preacher wasn't much 
meaner than the man is in the company store." 

She was bristling again. 

"He won't deliver goods up here unless you 
run a big bill. If I want anything much while 
big Frank here is at work, I have to take 
Jimmy's little play express-wagon and haul 
it up." 

And now she was telling me of her terrible 
fright three days ago, down at the company 
store, when there was a rumor of an accident 
in one of the far tunnels of the mine. 

"All the foreign women came running down 
the hUl, half-crazy. I am used to false alarms, 
but I could hardly get up to this house with my 
goods. I was expecting to see big Frank 
brought in, just like he was before little Frank 
was born, eight years ago." 

Little Frank lifted his face from its business 
of eating to listen. 

"The first thing that boy ever saw was his 
father on the floor there, covered with blood." 

"You don't remember it, Frank?" asked his 
father, grinning. 


The wife continued: "There was only one 


doctor came. We had a time between us. The 
other doctor was tendin' the men husband had 
dug out. The coal fell on them and mashed 
them flat. It couldn't quite mash husband. 
He's too tough," she said, lovingly. "He 
grabbed his pick and he tunnelled his way 
through, with the blood squirting out of him." 

Husband grinned like a petted child. He 
said: "It wasn't quite as bad as that, but I 
was bloody, all right." 

She continued with a gesture of impatience : 
"This is cheerful Sunday night talk. Let's 
try something else. What kind of a poem are 
you goin' to read ? " 

<fi lt tells boys how to be great men, but It's 
for fellows of from fifteen to twenty. You'll 
have to save it for your sons till they grow a 

She was at the foot of the stairway like a 

"Son, dress and come down to supper." 

Son was down almost as soon as she was in 
her chair, pulling on a stocking as he came. 
And he was hungry. He ate while we talked 
on and on. 



After the supper the dishes waited. The 
wife said : "Now we will have the poetry/* 
I said in my heart, "Maybe this is the one 
house in a hundred where the seed of these 
verses will be sown upon good ground." 

We went into the parlor, distinguished as 
such by the battered organ. The mother had 
Frank. and Jimmy sit in semicircle with her and 
big Frank, while I plunged into my rhymed 
appeal. After the dynamite of the day I did 
not hesitate to let loose the thunders. I 
did not hesitate to pause and expound : the 
poem being, as I have before described, many 
stanzas on heroes of history, with the refrain, 
ever and anon : God help us to be brave. No, 
kind and flattering reader, it was NOT above 
their heads. Earnestness is earnestness every- 
where. The whole circle grasped that I really 
expected something unusual of those boys with 
the black-diamond eyes, no matter what kind 
of perversity was in them at present. 

I said, in so many words, as a beginning, that 
nitro-glycerine was not the only force in the 


world, that there is also that dynamite called 
the power of the soul, and that detonation 
called fame. 

But I did not dwell long upon my special 
saints, Francis of Assisi and Buddha, nor those 
other favorites who some folk think contradict 
them: Phidias and Michael Angelo. I dwelt 
on the strong: Alexander, Caesar, Moham- 
med, Cromwell, Napoleon, and especially 
upon the lawgivers, Confucius, Moses, Jus- 
tinian; and dreamed that this ungoverned 
strength before me, that had sprung from the 
loins of King Coal, might some day climb high, 
that these little wriggling, dirty-fisted grand- 
sons of that monarch might yet make the world 
some princely reparation for his crimes. 

After the reading the mother and father said 
solemnly, "it is a good book." 

Then the wife showed the other two pieces 
of printed matter in the household, a volume 
of sermons, and a copy of The House of a Thou- 
sand Candles. You have read that work about 
the candles. The sermons were by the Reverend 
Wood M. Smithers. You do not know the 
Reverend Mister Smithers? He has collected 
in one fair volume all the sermons that ever put 


you to sleep, an antliology of all those discourses 
that are just alike. 

She said she had read them over and over 
again to the family. I believed it. There 
was butter on the page. I said in my heart : 
"She is not to be baffled by any phraseology. 
If she can get a kernel out of Wood M. 
Smithers, she will also derive strength from my 

She promised she would have each of the boys 
pick out one of the twenty-sis great men for a 
model, as soon as they were schooled enough to 
choose. She put the poem in the kitchen table 
drawer, where she kept some photographs of 
close relatives, and I had the final evidence that 
I had become an integral part of the family 


They sent me up to bed. I put out thfe 
lamp at once, lest I should see too much. I 
went to sleep quickly. I was as quickly 
awakened. Being a man of strategies and 
divertisements, I reached through the black- 


ness to the lamp that was covered with leaked 
oil. I rubbed this on my hands, and thence, 
thinly over my whole body. Coal oil too 
thick makes blisters ; thin enough, brings peace. 

I remember breakfast as a thing apart. 
Although the table held only what we had 
for supper, warmed over, although the morn- 
ing light was grey, and the room the worse for 
the grey light, the thing I cannot help remem- 
bering was the stillness and tenderness of that 
time. Father and mother spoke in subdued 
human voices. They had not yet had occasion 
to shout against the alarums and excursions 
of the day. And the sensitive faces of the 
boys, and the half-demon, half-angel light of 
their eyes stirred me with marvelling and rever- 
ence for the curious, protean ways of God. 

And now I was walking down the steeps of 
Avernus into Shickshinny, toward the smoke 
of torment that ascends forever. Underfoot 
was spread the same dark leprosy that yester- 
day had stunted flower and fruit and grass- 

I hated King Coal still, but not so much as 
of yore. 


YOTJ:B dust will be upon the wind 
"Within some certain years, 
Though you be sealed in lead to-day 
Amid the country's tears. 

When this idyllic churchyard 
Becomes the Heart of town, 
The place to build garage or inn, 
They'll throw your tombstone down. 

Your name so dim, so long outworn, 
Your bones so near to earth, 
Your sturdy kindred dead and gone, 
How should men know your worth ? 

So read upon the runic moon 
Man's epitaph, deep-writ. 
It says the world is one great grave. 
For names it cares no wMt. 

It tells the folk to live in peace, 
Aj&d still, in peace, to die. 
At least, so speaks the moon to me, 
The tombstone of the sky. 




CURIOUS are the agencies that throw the 
true believer into the occult state. Convales- 
cence may do it. Acts of piety may do it. 
Self-mortification may do it. 

After reading my evening sermon in rhyme 
in the house of the stranger, I had slept on the 
lounge in the parlor. The lounge had lost 
some of its excelsior, and the springs wound 
their way upwards like steel serpents. So 
strenuous had been the day I could have 
slumbered peacefully on a Hindu bed of spikes. 

I awoke refreshed, despite several honorable 
scars. What is more important I left that 
house with faculties of discernment. 

I did not realize at first that I was particu- 


larly spiritualized. I was merely walking west, 
hoping to take in Oil City on my route. Yet I 
saw straight through the bark of a big maple, 
and beheld the loveliest . . . but I have not 
time to tell. 

Then I heard a fluttering in a patch of tall 
weeds and discovered what the people in fairy- 
land call . . . but no matter. We must hurry 

At noon your servant was on the front step 
of a store near a cross-roads called Cranberry, 
Pennsylvania. The store was on the south 
side of the way by which I had come. I sat 
looking along wagon tracks leading north, 
little suspecting I should take that route soon. 

On one side overhead was the sign : "Fred 
James, Undertaker/' On the other: "Fred 
James, Grocer." 

"And so," I thought, "I am going to meet, 
face to face, one of the eternal powers. He may 
call himself Fred James all he pleases. His 
real name is Death." 

I met the lady Life, once upon a time, long 
ago. She * had innocent blue eyes. Alone in 
the field I felt free to kiss the palm of her 
little hand, under the shadow of the corn. 


It has nothing to do with the tale, but let 
us here reflect how the corn-stalk is a proud 
thing, how it flourishes Its dangerous blades, 
guarding the young ear. It will cut you on 
the forehead if the wind is high. Above the 
blades is the sacred tassel like a flame. 

Once, under that tassel, under those danger- 
ous blades, I met Life, and for good reason, 
bade her good-by. After her solemn words 
of parting, she called me back, and mischiev- 
ously fed me, from the pocket of her gingham 
apron, crab apples and cranberries. Ever since 
that time those fruits have been bitter delights 
to my superstitious fancy. 

And here I was at CRANBERRY cross-roads, 
with a funeral director's sign over my head. A 
long five minutes I meditated on the mystery 
of Life and Death and cranberries. A fat 
chicken* apparently meditating on the same 
mystery, kept walking up and down, catching 

At length it was revealed to me that when 
things have their proper rhythm Life and Death 
are interwoven, like willows plaited for a 
basket. Somewhat later in the afternoon I 
speculated that when times are out of joint, it 


is because Death reigns without Life for a 
partner, with the assistance of the Devil rather. 
But do not remember this. It anticipates the 

One does not hasten into the presence of the 
undertaker. One rather waits. HE was com- 
ing. I did not look round. Even at noon he 
cast a considerable shadow. 

The shadow dwindled as he sat on the same 
step and asked : " What road have you come ?" 
His non-partisan drawl was the result, we will 
suppose, of not knowing which side of the 
store the new customer approached. 

"I came from over there. I have been walk- 
ing since sunrise, 5 ' 

He had some account of my adventures, and 
my point of view as a religious mendicant. I 
knew I would have to ask the further road of 
him, but disliked the necessity. He waited 
patiently while I watched my friend, the fat 
chicken,, explore an empty, dirty, bottomless 
basket for flies. 

"I want to go west by way of Oil City/* I 
finally said. 

He answered: "Oil City is reached by the 
north road, straight in front of you as you sit. 


It Is about an hour's walk to the edge of it. 
It is a sort of trap in the mountains. "When 
you get in sight of it, keep on going down" 
This he said very solemnly. 

He put his hand on my shoulder: "Come 
in and rest and eat first. It won't cost you a 
cent/ 5 

I was hungry enough to eat a coffin handle, 
and so I looked at him and extended my hand. 
He was a handsome chap, with a grey mustache. 
His black coat was buttoned high. He was 
extra neat for a country merchant, and chewed 
his tobacco surreptitiously. His face was not 
so bony and stern as you might think. 

I gave him an odd copy of the Tree of Laugh- 
ing Bells, still remaining by me. He looked at 
the outside long, doing the cover more than 
justice. Then he opened it, with a certain air 
of delicate appreciation. I urged him to post- 
pone reading the thing till I was gone. 

His store was high and long and narrow and 
cool. There was a counter to the west, a 
counter to the east. Behind the western one 
were tall coffin cupboards. As he proudly 
opened and shut them, one could not but 
notice the length of his fingers and their dex- 


terity. He showed plain coffins and splendid 
coffins. He unscrewed the lid of one, that I 
might see the silky cushions within. They 
looked easier than last night's lounge. 

As he stepped across what might be called 
the international date line of the store, and 
entered the hemisphere of groceries, he began 
to look as though he would indulge in a merry 
quip. A faint flush came to his white coun- 
tenance, that shone among the multi-colored 

Before us were the supplies of a rural general 
store, from the kitchen mop to the blue parlor 
vase. Hanging from the ceiling was an array 
of the flamboyant varnished posters of the 
seedsmen, with pictures of cut watermelons, 
blood-red, and portraits of beets, cabbages, 

I read his home-made sign aloud : CC I guaran- 
tee every seed in the store. Pansy seeds a 

"Not that they all grow/ 3 he explained. 
"But the guarantee keeps up the confidence 
of the customers. I have made more off of 
vegetable and flower seeds this year than 
caskets/ 5 


He pulled out a chip plate and fed me with 
dried beef, sliced tMn. 

He smiled broadly, and set down a jar. The 
merry quip had arrived. 

"Why/' he asked, "is a stick of candy like a 

I remained silent, but looked anxious to 
know. Delighted with himself, he gave the 
ancient answer, and with it several sticks of 
candy. Kind reader, if you do not know the 
answer to the riddle, ask your neighbor. 

There was no end of sweets. He skilfully 
sliced fresh bread, and spread it with butter 
and thick honey-comb. With much self-ap- 
proval he insisted on crowding my pockets with 

"Nobody knows how they will treat you 
around Oil City. I go often., but never for 
pleasure. Only on funeral business." 

He gave me pocketfuls of the little animal 
crackers, so daintily cut out, that used to delight 
all of us as children. Since he insisted I take 
something more, I took figs and dates. 

He held up an animal cracker, shaped like a 
cow, and asked: "When was beefsteak the 
highest ? " I ventured to give the answer. 


Death is not a bad fellow. Let no man cross 
his grey front stoop with misgiving. The 
honey he serves is made by noble bees. Yet 
do not go seeking him out. No doubt his 
acquaintance is most worth while when it is 
casual, unexpected, one of the natural accidents. 
And he does not always ask such simple riddles, 



It was about two o'clock when the north road 
left the cornfields and reached the hill crests 
above the city. How the highway descended 
over cliffs and retraced itself on ridges and 
wound into hollows to get to the streets! At 
the foot of the first incline I met a lame cat 
creeping, panic-stricken, out of town. 

Oil City is an ugly, confused kind of place. 
There are thousands like it in the United States. 

I reached the post-office at last. There was 
no letter for me at the general delivery. I was 
expecting a miss-iie. And now my blistered 
heels, and my breaking the rule to avoid the 
towns, and my detour of half a day were all in 


Oil City, in her better suburbs, as a collection 
of worthy families in comfortable homes, may 
have much to say for herself. But as a cor- 
porate soul she has no excuse. The dominant, 
shoddy architecture is as eloquent as the red nose 
of a drunkard. I do not need to take pains to 
work her into my allegory. The name she has 
chosen makes her a symbol. No doubt others 
reach the very heart of her only to find it empty 
as the post-office was to me. Baffling as this 
may be, there is another risk. Escape is not 

Almost out of town at last, I sat down by the 
fence, determined not to stir till morning. I 
said, "I can sleep with my back against this 

I had just overtaken the lame cat, and she 
now moved past me over the ridge to the corn- 
fields. She seemed most unhappy. I looked 
back to that oil metropolis. I wondered how 
many had lived and died there when they would 
have preferred some other place. 




A fat Italian came by in a heavily-tired wagon. 
The wagon was loaded with green bananas. 
The fruit-vendor stopped and looked me over. 
He most demonstratively offered me a seat 
beside him. He had a Benvenuto Cellini leer. 
He wore one gold earring. He looked like the 
social secretary of the Black Hand. 

He was apparently driving on into the coun- 
try. Therefore I suffered myself to be pulled 
up on to the seat. Around the corner we came 
to green fields and bushes, and I thanked the 
good St. Francis and all his holy company. 

I said to my charioteer : "As soon as you get 
a mile out, let me down. I do not want to get 
near any more towns for awhile.'* 

"Allaright/' he said. On his wrist was 
tattooed a blue dagger. The first thing he did 
was unmerciful. He went a yard out of his 
way to drive over the lame cat which had 
stopped in despair, just ahead of us. Pussy 
died without a shriek. Then the cruel one, 
gathering by my manner that I was not pleased 
with this incident, created a diversion. He 


reproved Ms horse for not hurrying. It was 
not so much a curse as an Italian oration. The 
poor animal tried to respond, but hobbled so, 
Ms master surprised me by checking the gait 
to a walk. Then he cooed to the horse like a 
two hundred pound turtledove. 

In a previous incarnation tMs driver must 
have been one of the lower animals, he had so 
many dealings with such. Some rocks half the 
size of base-balls were piled at Ms feet. A 
ferocious dog shot out from a cottage doorway. 
With lightning action he hurled the ammuni- 
tion at the offender. The beast retreated 
weeping aloud from pain. And Mr. Cellini 
showed Ms teeth with delight. 

And now, after passing several pleasant farm- 
houses, where I ran a chance for a free lodging for 
the asking, I was vexed to be suddenly driven 
into a town. We hobbled., rattled on, into a 
wilderness tMcker every minute with fire- 
spouting smoke-stacks. 

"This ees FranHin," said my charioteer. 
" Nice-a-town. MY town/ 5 he added earnestly. 
"I getta reech (rich) to-morrow/' 

He began to cross-examine the writer of 
this tale. I counselled myself not to 


give my name and address, lest I be held for 

After many harmless Inquiries, he asked 
in a would-be ingratiating manner, "Poppa 

"No. Poor." 

"Poppa verra reech?" 

"No. Awfully poor. But happy and con- 

"Where your Poppa leeve?" 

"My father is the Man in the Moon.' 5 

That answer changed him completely. I 
seemed to have given the password. I had 
joined whatever it was he belonged to. He 
gave me three oranges as a sign. 

I had hoped we would drive past the smoke 
and fire. But he turned at right angles," into 
the midst of it, and drove into a big black barn. 
He waved me good-by in the courtliest manner, 
as though he were somebody important, and I 
were somebody important. 

Pretty soon I asked a passer-by the nearest 
way to the suburbs. I had to walk on the 
edges of my feet they were so tired. The street 
he pointed out to me was nothing but a contin- 
uation of tar-black, coughing, out-of-door ovens, 



side by side, shoulder to shoulder, on to the 
crack of doom. I presume, in the language of 
this vain world, they were coke ovens. 

I opened my eyes as little as possible and 
breathed hardly at all. Then, by way of diver- 
sion, I nibbled animal crackers, first a dog, 
then a giraffe, then a hippopotamus, then an 

Those ovens looked queerer as the street led 
on. There were subtle essences abroad when 
the smoke cleared away, and when the great 
roar ceased there were vague sounds that 
struck awe into the heart. I may be mistaken, 
but I think I know the odor of a burning ghost 
on the late afternoon wind, and the puffing 
noise he makes. 

As the cinders crunched, crunched, underfoot, 
the conviction deepened: "These ovens are 
not mere works of man. Dying sinners snared 
and corrupted by Oil City are carried here 
when the city has done its work carried in 
the wagon of Apollyon, under bunches of green 
bananas. Body and soul they are disintegrated 
by the venomous oil ; they crumble away in the 
town of oil, and here in the town of ovens, the 
fragments are burned with unquenchable fire." 


Now it was seven o'clock. The street led 
south past the aristocratic suburbs of Franklin, 
and on to the fields and dandelion-starred 



I hoped for a farm-hand's house. Only in 
that sort will they give free lodging so near 
town. And, friends, I found it, there on the 
edge of the second cornfield. The welcome was 

I looked at my host aghast. To satisfy my 
sense of the formal, he should have had the 
dignity to make him Father Adam, and lord of 
Paradise. How could one round out a day that 
began loftily with Death, and continued glo- 
riously with some one mighty like the Devil, 
with this inglorious type now before me? He 
wrecked my allegory. There is no climax in 

Just as the colorless, one-room house had 
stove, chimney, cupboard, adequate roof, floor, 
and walls, so the owner had the simplified, 


anatomical, and phrenological make-up of a 
man. He tad a luke-warm hand-clasp. He 
smoked a Pittsburg stogy. He had thick 
vague features and a shock of drab hair. The 
nearest to a symbol about him was his new 
green galluses. I suppose they indicated I 
was out in the fields again. 

If his name was not Stupidity, it was Awk- 
wardness. He kept a sick geranium in an old 
tomato can in the window. He had not cut off 
the bent-back cover of the can. Just after he 
gave me a seat he scratched his hand, as he was 
watering the flower, and swore softly. 

Yet one must not abuse his host. I hasten to 
acknowledge his generous hospitality. If it 
be not indelicate to mention it, he boiled much 
water, and properly diluted it with cold, that 
the traveller might bathe. The bath was ac- 
complished out of doors beneath the shades of 

Later he was making preparations for supper, 
with dull eyes that looked nowhere. He made 
sure I fitted my chair. He put an old com- 
fort over it. It was well. The chair was 
not naturally comfortable; it was partly a 


After much fumbling about, lie brought some 
baked potatoes from the oven. The plate was 
so hot he dropped it, but so thick it would not 

He picked up the potatoes, as good as ever, 
and broke some open for me, spreading them 
with tolerable butter, and handing them across 
the table. Then I started to eat. 

"Wait a minute," he said. He bowed his 
head, closed his dull eyes, and uttered these 
words : " The Lord make us truly thankful for 
what we are about to receive. Amen/' 

I have been reproved by some of the judicious 
for putting so much food in these narratives. 
Nevertheless the first warm potato tasted like 
peacocks' tongues, the next like venison, and 
the next like ambrosia, and the next like a good 
warm potato with butter on it. One might as 
well leave Juliet out of Verona as food like 
this out of a road-story. As we ate we hinted 
to each other of our many ups and downs. He 
mumbled along, telling his tale. He did not 
care whether he heard mine or not. 

He had been born near by. In early manhood 
he had been taken with the oil fever. It hap- 
pened in this wise : He had cut his foot 


splitting kindling. Meditating ambition as lie 
slowly recovered, he resolved to go to town. 
He sold Ms small farm and wasted his substance 
in speculation. At the same time his young 
wife and only child died of typhoid fever. He 
was a laborer awhile in the two cities to the 
northeast. Then he came back here to plough 

He had been saving for two years, had made 
money enough to go back "pretty soon" and 
enter what he considered a sure-thing scheme, 
that I gathered had a close relation to the oil 
business. He said that he had learned from 
experience to sift the good from the bad in that 
realm of commerce. 

He put brakes on the slow freight train of his 
narrative. "I was about to explain, when you 
ast to come in, that I don't afford dessert to my 
meals often." 

"If you will excuse me/ 5 I said, emptying 
my pockets, " these figs, these dates, these 
oranges, these animal crackers were given me 
by Death, and the Devil. Eat hearty." 

"Death and the Devil. What kind are 

"They're not a bad sort. Death gave me 


honey for dinner, and the Devil did no worse 
than drive me a little out of my way/* 

He smiled vaguely. He thought it was a 
joke, and was too interested in the food itself 
to ask any more questions. 

The balmy smokeless wind from the south 
was whistling, whistling past the window, and 
through the field. How much one can under- 
stand by mere whispers ! The wind cried, 
"Life, life, life !" Some of the young corn was 
brushing the walls of the cottage, and armies on 
armies of young corn were bivouacing further 
down the road, lifting their sacred tassels 
toward the stars. 

There was no change in the expression of the 
countenance of my host, eating, talking, or 
sitting still in the presence of the night. I 
may have had too poor an estimate of his powers, 
but I preached no sermon that evening, 

But, like many a primitive man I have met, 
he preached me a sermon. He had no bed. 
He gave the traveller a place to sleep in one 
corner and himself slept in the opposite corner. 
The floor was smooth and clean and white, and 
the many scraps of rag carpet and the clean 
comfort over me were a part of the sermon. 


Another part was in Ms question before he slept : 
"Does the air from that open window bother 

I assured him I wanted all there was, though 
from the edge of the world. 

He had awkwardly folded his new overcoat, 
and put it under my head. . . . And so I 
was beginning to change his name from Stupid- 
ity and Awkwardness to Humankindness. 

Though in five minutes he was snoring like 
Sousa's band, I could not but sleep. When I 
awoke the sun was in my eyes. It shone 
through the open door. Mr. Humankindness 
was up. The smell of baked potatoes was in 
the air. Outside, rustled the corn. The wind 
cried, "Life, life, life." 


This being the name of praise given to a fair lady. 

I USED to think, when the corn was blowing, 
Of my lost lady, Life Transcendent, 
Of her valiant way, of her pride resplendent : 
For the corn swayed round, like her warrior- 

When I knelt by the blades to kiss her hand. 
But now the green of the corn is going. 
And winter conies and a springtime sowing 
Of other grain, on the plains we knew. 
So I walk on air, where the clouds are blowing, 
And kiss her hand, where the gods are sowing 
Stars for corn, in the star-fields new. 



HUNTED by friends who think that life is play, 
Shaken by holy loves, more feared than foes, 
By beauty's amber cup, that overflows, 
And pride of place, that leads me more astray : 

Here I renew my vows, and this chief vow 
To seek each year this shrine of deathless power, 
Keeping my springtime cornland thoughts in 

While labor-gnarled grey Christians round me 


Arm me against great towns, strong spirits old ! 
St. Francis keep me road- worn, music-fed. 
Help me to look upon the poor-house bed 
As a most fitting death, more dear than gold. 

Help me to seek the sunburned groups afield, 
The iron folk, the pioneers free-born. 


Make me to voice the tall men In the corn. 
Let boyhood's wildfiower days a bright fruit 

Scourge me, a slave that brings unhallowed 


To you, stern Virgin in this church so sweet, 
If I desert the ways wherein my feet 
Were set by Heaven, in prenatal days. 



THE reader need not expect this book to 
contain any nicely adjusted plot with a villain, 
hero, lawyer, papers, surprise, and happy ending. 
The highway is irrelevant. The highway is 
slipshod. The highway is as the necklace of a 
gipsy or an Indian, a savage string of pebbles 
and precious stones, no two alike, with an occa- 
sional trumpery suspender button or peach seed. 
Every diamond is in the rough. 

I was walking between rugged farms on the 
edge of the oil country in western Pennsylvania. 

The road, almost dry after several days of 
rain, was gay with butterfly-haunted puddles. 
The grotesque swain who gave me a lift in his 
automobile for a mile is worth a page, but we 
will only say that his photograph would have 
contributed to the gaiety of nations that he 


was the carved peach-stone on the necklace of 
the day. 

There was a complacent cat In a doorway, 
that should have been named " scrambled eggs 
and milk/' so mongrel was his overcoat. There 
was a philosophic grasshopper reading inscrip- 
tions in a lonely cemetery, with whom I had a 
long and silent interchange of spirit. Even the 
graveyard was full of sun. 

On and on led the merry morning* At 
length came noon, and a meal given with hearti- 
ness, as easily plucked as a red apple. For half 
an hour after dinner in that big farm-house we 
sat and talked religion. 

O pagan in the cities, the brand of one's belief 
is still important in the hayfield. I was de- 
lighted to discover this household held by con- 
viction to the brotherhood of which I was still 
a nominal member. Their lingo was a taste 
of home. "Our People," "Our Plea/' "The 
pious unimmersed." Thus did they lead them- 
selves into paths of solemnity. 

Then, in the last five minutes of my stay, I 
gave them my poem-sermon. The pamphlet 
made them stare, if it did not make them think. 

Splendor after splendor rolled in upon the 


highway from the four corners of heaven. 
Why then should I complain, if about four 
o'clock the prosy old world emerged again? 

The wagon-track now followed a section of 
the Pennsylvania railroad, and railroads are 
anathema in my eyes when I am afoot. There 
appeared no promising way of escape. And 
now the steel rails led into a region where there 
had been rain, even this morning. More than 
once I had to take to the ties to go on. When 
the mud was at all passable I walked in it by 
preference, fortifying myself with these philos- 
ophizings : 

"Cinders are sterile. They blast man and 
nature, but the black earth renews all. Mud 
upon the shoes is not a contamination but a sign 
of progress, eloquent as sweat upon the brow. 
Who knows but the feet are the roots of a man ? 
Who knows but rain on the road may help him 
to grow? Maybe the stature and breadth of 
farmers is due to their walking behind the 
plough in the damp soil. Only an aviator or a 
bird has a right to spurn the ground. All the 
rest of us must furrow our way. Thus will our 
cores be enriched, thus will we give fruit after 
our kind/* 


Whistling pretty hard, I made my way. 
And now I had to choose between my rule to 
flee from the railroad, and my rule to ask for 
hospitality before dark. 

At length I said to myself : "I want to get 
into a big unsophisticated house, the kind that is 
removed from this railroad. I want to find an 
unprejudiced host who will listen with an open 
mind, and let me talk him to death." 

To keep this resolve I had to hang on till near 
eight o'clock. The cloudy night made the way 
dim. At length I came to a road that had been 
so often graded and dragged it shed water like 
a turtle's shell. It crossed the railway at right 
angles and ploughed north. I followed it a 
mile, shaking the heaviest mud from my shoes. 
Led by the light of a lantern, I approached a 
dim grey farm-house and what would have 
been in the daytime a red barn. 



The lantern was carried, as I finally dis- 
covered, by an old man getting a basket of chips 
near the barn gate. He had his eye on me as I 


leaned over the fence. He swung the lantern 

"My name is Nicholas/' I said. "I am a 
professional tramp." 

"W-e-H," lie said slowly, in question, and 
then in exclamation. 

He flashed the lantern in my face. "Come 
in/ 5 he said. "Sit down." 

We were together on the chip-pile. He did 
not ask me to split kindling, or saw wood. Few 
people ever do. 

In appearance he was the old John G. Whittier 
type of educated laboring man, only more 
eagle-like. He spoke to me in a kingly prophetic 
manner, developed, I have no doubt, by a life- 
time of unquestioned predominance at prayer- 
meeting and at the communion table. It was 
the sonorous agricultural holy tone that is the 
particular aversion of a certain pagan type of 
city radical who does not understand that the 
meeting-house is the very rock of the agricul- 
tural social system. As far as I am concerned, 
if this manner be worn by a kindly old man, it 
inspires me with respect and delight. In a slow 
and gracious way he separated his syllables. 

"Young man, you are per-fect-ly wel-come 


to shel-ter If we are on-ly sure you will not do us 
an in-ju-ry. My age and ex-per-ience ought 
to count for a lit-tle, and I assure you that most 
free travel-ers abuse hos-pi-tal-ity. But wait 
till my daugh-ter-in-law comes." 

I was shivering with weariness, and my wet 
feet wanted to get to a stove at once. I did not 
feel so much like talking some one to death as I 
had a while back. 

By way of passing the time, the Patriarch 
showed me his cane. "Pre-sen-ted at the last 
old set-tel-ers* picnic because I have been the 
pres-i-dent of the old-settlers* association for 
ten years. Young man, why don't you carry a 

"Why should I?" 

"Won't it help you to keep off dogs ?" 

I replied, "A housekeeper, if she is in a ner- 
vous condition, is apt to be afraid of a walking- 
stick. It looks like a club. To carry something 
to keep off dogs is like carrying a lightning-rod 
to keep off lightning. I encounter a lot of 
barking and thunder, but have never been 
bitten or blasted." 

And while I was thus laboring for the respect 
of the Patriarch, the daughter-in-law stepped 


into the golden circle of the lantern light. She 
had just come from the milking. I shall never 
forget those bashful gleaming eyes, peering out 
from the sunbonnet. Her sleeves were rolled 
to the shoulder. Startling indeed were those 
arms, as white as the foaming milk. 

She set down the bucket with a big sigh of 
relaxation. She pushed back the sunbonnet 
to get a better look. The old man addressed 
her in an authoritative and confident way, as 
though she were a mere adjunct, a part of his 

"Daugh-ter, here is a good young man he 
LOOKS like a good young man, I think a stew- 
dent. You see he has books in his pock-et. 
He wants a night's lodging. Now, if he is a 
good young man, I think we can give him the 
bed in the spare room, and if he is a bad young 
man, I think there is enough rope in the barn 
to hang him before day-light." 

"Yes, you can stay," she said brightly. 
"Have you had supper?" 

It is one of the obligations of the road to 
tell the whole truth. But in this case I lied. 
The woman was working too late. 

"Oh yes, I've had supper," I said. 


And she carried the milk into the darkness. 

In the city, among people having the status 
indicated by the big red barn and the enormous 
wind-mill and a most substantial fence, this 
gleaming woman would have languished in 
shelter. She would have played at many 
philanthropies, or gone to many study clubs or 
have had many lovers. She would have been 
variously adventurous according to her corner 
of the town. Here her paramour was WORK. 
He still caressed her, but would some day break 
her on the wheel. 

The old man sent me toward the front porch 
alone. There was a rolling back of the low 
gray clouds just then, and the coming of the 
moon. The moon's moods are so many. To- 
night she took the f orlornness out of the restless 
sky. She looked domestic as the lantern. 



I was on the porch, scraping an acquaint- 
ance with the grandmother. She held a baby 
in her lap. They sat in the crossing of the 
moonlight and the lamplight. 


There was no one to explain me. I explained 
myself. Site eyed me angrily. She did not 
want me to shake hands with the baby. She 
asked concerning her daughter-in-law. 

"And did she say you could stay? 35 

"She did." 

The grandmother brought a hard fist down 
on the arm of the chair : "I'd like to break her 
neck. She's no more backbone than a rabbit." 

I do not distinctly remember any bitter old 
man I have met in my travels. She was the 
third bitter old woman. Probably with the 
same general experiences as her husband, she 
had digested them differently. She was on 
the shelf, but made for efficiency and she was 
not run down. 

In her youth her hair was probably red. 
Though she was plainly an old woman, it was 
the brown of middle age with only a few streaks 
of gray. Under her roughness there were 
touches of a truly cultured accent and manner. 
I would have said that in youth she had had 
what they call opportunities. 

I asked: "Isn't the moon fine to-night?" 

She replied : "Why don't you go to work?" 

I answered: "I asked for work in the big 


city till I was worn to a thread. And you are 
the first person who has urged it on me since 
I took to tramping. I wonder why no one 
ever thought of it before." 

She* smiled grudgingly. 

"What kind of work did you try to do in the 

"I wanted to paint rainbows and gild side- 
walks and blow bubbles for a living. But no 
one wanted me to. It is about all I am fit for." 

"Don't talk nonsense to me, young man!" 

"Pardon me, leddy I am a writer of 

"The nation's going to the dogs," she said. 
I suppose I was the principal symptom of 
national decay. 

Just then a happy voice called through the 
house, "Come to supper." 

"That's for you," said the grandmother. 
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself." 



I went in the direction of the voice, delighted, 
not ashamed. There, in that most cleanly 


kitchen, stood the white-armed milkmaid, with 
cheeks of geranium red. She had spread a 
table before me in the presence of mine enemy. 
I said : "I did not ask for supper. I told you 
I had eaten/' 

"Oh, I knew you were hungry. Wait on 
him, Gretchen-Cecilia." 

My hostess scurried into the other room. 
She was in a glorious mood over something 
with which I had nothing to do. 

Gretchen-Cecilia came out of the pantry and 
poured me a glass of warm milk. I looked at 
her, and my destiny was sealed f orevermore 
at least for an hour or so. The sight of her 
brought the tears to my eyes. 

I know you are saying: "Beware of the 
man with tears in his eyes/' Yes, I too have 
seen weeping exhibitions. I remember a cer- 
tain pious exhorter. The collection followed 
soon. And I used to hear an actor brag about 
the way he wept when he looked upon a cer- 
tain ladylike actress whom we all adore. He 
vividly pictured himself with a handkerchief 
to his devoted cheeks, waiting in the wings for 
his cue. He had belladonna eyes. At the 
risk of being classed with such folk, I reaffirm 


that I was a little weepy. I Insist It was not 
gratitude for a sudden square meal if truth 
be told, I have had many such it was the 
novel Gretchen-Cecilia. 

It took little conversation to show that 
Gretchen-Cecilia was a privileged character. 
She had little of the touch of the farm upon 
her. She was the spoiled pet of the house, and 
the index of their prosperity what novelists 
call the third generation. She had a way of 
lifting her chin and shoving her fists deep into 
her apron pockets. 

I said: "I have a fairy-tale to read to you 
after supper. 5 ' 

And she said : "I like fairy-tales/ 5 And 
then, redundantly : "I like stories about fairies. 
Fairy stories are nice." 

It was no little pleasure to eat after nine 
hours doing without, and to dwell on beauty 
such as this after so many days of absence 
from the museums of art and the curio shops. 
Every time she brought me warm biscuits or 
refilled my tumbler, she brought me pretty 
thoughts as well. 

She was nine years old, she told me. Her 
eyes were sometimes brown, sometimes violet. 


Her mouth was half a cherry, and her chin the 
quintessence of elegance. Her braids were 
long and rich, her ribbons wide and crisp. 

Maidenhood has distinct stages. The six- 
teenth year, when unusually ripe, is a tender 
prophecy. Thirteen is often the climax of 
astringent childhood, with its especial defiance 
or charm. But nine years old is my favorite 
season. It is spring in winter. It is sweet 
sixteen through walls of impregnable glass. 
This ripeness dates from prehistoric days, 
when people lived in the tops of the trees, and 
almost flew to and from the nests they built 
there, and mated much earlier than now. 

As I finished eating, the mother brought the 
little brother into the room saying, "Gretchen- 
Cecilia, watch the baby." Then she smiled on 
me and said: "When she washes the dishes,, 
you can hold him." 

She had on a fresh gingham apron, blue, with 
white trimmings. I judged by the squeak, 
she had changed her shoes. 

"Who's coming?" I asked, when the mother 
had left. 

"Papa. He goes around the state and digs 
oil wells, and is back at the end of the week." 


I was washing the dishes when Grandma came 
In. She frowned me away from the dishpan. 
She said, " Gretchen-Cecilia, wipe the dishes/' 

The baby howled on the floor. I was not 
to touch him. Gretchen-Cecilia tried to com- 
fort him by saying, "Baby, dear dear baby; 
baby, dear dear baby." 

"Do you realize, young man, 5 * asked 
Grandma, "that I, an old woman, am wash- 
ing your dishes for you?" 

I was busy. I was putting my wet stockinged 
feet on a kindling-board in the oven, and my 
shoes were curling up on the back of the 

"Young man " 

"Yessum " 

"Where's your wife ?" 

I replied, "I have no wife, and never did 
have." Then I ventured to ask, "May I 
have the hand of Gretchen ? I want some one 
who can wipe dishes while I wash them." 

"But I'm not grown up/' piped the maiden. 
It seemed her only objection. 

I said: "I will wait and wait till you are 

The old lady had no soul for trifles. She in- 


toned, like conscience that will not be slain : 
66 Where's your wife?" 

But I said in my heart: "Madam, you are 
only a suspender-button upon the necklace of 
the evening." 


There was a scurry and a flutter. Gretchen 
threw down her dish-rag, leaving Grandma a 
plate to wipe. 

I heard the grandfather say, "Wei-come, son, 
wel-come indeed!" The young wife gave a 
smothered shriek, and then in a minute I 
heard her exclaim, "John, you're a scamp!" 

I put on my hot shoes and went in to see 
what this looked like. Gretchen-Cecilia was 
somewhere between them, and then on her 
father's shoulder, mussing his hair. And the 
mother took Gretchen down, as John said in 
reply to a question : 

"Business is good. Whether there's oil or 
not, I dig the hole and get paid." 

This man was now standing his full height 
for his family to admire. He was one I too 


could not help admiring. He had an open 
sunburned face, and I thought that behind it 
there was a non-scheming mind, that had 
attained good fortune beyond the lot of most 
of the simple. He was worth the dressing up 
the family had done for him, and almost worthy 
of Gretchen's extra crisp hair ribbons. 

His wife put her arms around his neck and 
whispered something, evidently about me. He 
watched me over his shoulder as much as to 

"And so it's a stray dog wants shelter? No 

He unwrapped his package. It was an 
extraordinary doll, with truly truly hair, and 
Gretchen-Cecilia had to give him seven kisses 
and almost cry before he surrendered It. 

He pulled off his boots and threw them in 
the corner, then paddled up stairs and came 
down in his shoes. For no reason at all 
Gretchen-Cecilia and her mother chased him 
around the kitchen table with a broom and a 
feather duster, and then out on to the back 




The grandfather called me into the front 
room and handed me a book. 

"Yer a schol-ar. What do you think of 

It was a history of the county. The fron- 
tispiece was a portrait of Judge Somebody. 
But the book naturally opened at about the 
tenth page, on an atrocious engraving of this 
goodly old man and his not ill-looking wife. 
He breathed easier when I found it. It was 
plainly a basis of family pride. I read the 

"So you two are the oldest inhabitants ?" I 

"The oldest per-pet-ual in-habitants. I was 
born in this coun-ty and have nev-er left it. 
My wife is some young-er, but she has nev-er 
left it, since she married me." 

Even the old lady grew civil. She tapped a 
brooch near her neck. "They gave me this 
breast-pin at the last old settlers' picnic." 

The old man continued: "All the old farm 
is still here in our hands, but mostly rented. 


It brings something, something. Our big in- 
come is from my son's well-digging. He never 
speculates and he makes money." 

It seemed a part of the old man's pride to 
have even the passing stranger realize they 
were well-fixed. In "a furtive attempt to do 
justice to their station in life they had a tall 
clock in the corner, quite new and beautiful. 
And, as I discovered later, there was up- 
stairs a handsome bath-room. The rest of 
that new house was clean and white, but help- 
lessly Spartan. 

The old folk were called to the back porch. 
At the same time I heard the mother say, 
"Show the man your doll." 

And in came the little daughter like thistle- 

We were in that white room at opposite ends 
of the long table, and nothing but the im- 
maculate cloth stretching between us. She 
sat with the doll clutched to her breast, looking 
straight into my eyes, the doll staring at me 
also. The girl was such a piece of bewitch- 
ment that the poem I brought to her about 
the magical Tree of Laughing Bells seemed tame 
to me, and everyday. That foolish rhyme was 


soon read and put into her hands. It seemed 
to give her an infinite respect for me. And 
any human creature loves to be respected. 

On the back porch the talking grew louder. 

"Papa is telling them he wants to rent the 
rest of the farm and move us all to town/' 
explained Gretchen. 

It was the soft voice of the young wife we 
heard : " Of course it will be nice to be nearer 
my church." 

And then the young father's voice : "And I 
don't want Gretchen to grow up on the farm." 

And the old man's voice, still nobly intoned : 
"And as I say, I don't want to be stub-born, 
but I don't want to cross the coun-ty line." 

Gretchen banged the door on them and we 
crossed the county line indeed. We told each 
other fairy-tales while the unheeded murmur 
of debate went on. 

When it came Gretchen's turn, she alter- 
nated Grimm, and Hans Andersen and the 
legends of the Roman Church. I had left the 
railroad resolved to talk some one to death, 
and now with all my heart I was listening. 
She knew the tales I had considered my special 
discoveries in youth: "The Amber Witch," 


"The Enchanted Horse," "The Two Brothers." 
She also knew that most pious narrative, Elsie 
Dinsmore. She approved when I told her I 
had found it not only sad but helpful in my 
spiritual life. She had found it just so in hers. 


With her eyes still flashing from argument, 
the grandmother took me up stairs. She gave 
me a big bath-towel, and showed me the bath- 
room, and also my sleeping place. I asked her 
about the holy pictures hanging near my bed. 
She explained in a voice that endeavored not 
to censure : "My daughter-in-law is of German- 
Catholic descent, and she is still Catholic/' 

"What is your denomination?" I asked. 

"My husband and son and I are Congrega- 

She did not ask it of me, but I said : "I am 
what is sometimes disrespectfully called a 

But the old lady was gone. 

After a boiling bath* I lay musing under 
those holy pictures. My brother of the road, 


when they put you in the best room, as they 
sometimes do, and you look at the white coun- 
terpane and the white sheets and the cosey 
appointments, do you take these brutally, or 
do you think long upon the intrinsic generosity 
of God and man? 

I have laid hold of hospitality coldly and 
greedily in my time, but this night at least, I 
was thankful. And as I turned my head in a 
new direction I was thankful most of all for 
the unexpected presence of the Mother of God. 
There was her silvery statue near the foot of 
my bed, the moonlight pouring straight in 
upon it through the wide window. It spoke to 
me of peace and virginity. 

And I thought how many times in Babylon 
I had gone into the one ever open church to 
look on the crowned image of the Star of the 
Sea. Though I am no servitor of Rome I 
have only adoration for virginity, be it carved 
in motionless stone, or in marble that breathes 
and sings. 

A long long time I lay awake while the image 
glimmered and glowed. The clock downstairs 
would strike its shrill bell, and in my heart a 
censer swung. 



There was a pounding on the door and a 
shout. It was the young husband's voice. 
"It's time to feed your face." 

They were at the breakfast-table when I 
came down. My cherished memory of the 
group is the picture of them with bowed heads, 
the grandfather, with hand upraised, saying 
grace. It was ornate, and by no means brief. 
It was rich with authority. I wanted to call 
in all the mocking pagans of the nation, to be 
subdued before that devotion. I wanted to 
say: "Behold, little people, some great hearts 
still pray." 

I stood in the door and made shift to bow 
my head. Yet my head was not so much bowed 
but I could see Gretchen-Cecilia and her mother 
timidly cross themselves. In my heart I said 
"Amen" to the old man's prayer. But I love 
every kind of devotion, so I crossed myself in 
the Virgin's name. 

The tale had as well end here as anywhere. 
On the road there are endless beginnings and 
few conclusions. For instance I gathered from 


the conversation at the breakfast table they 
were not sure whether they would move to the 
city or not. They were for the most part 
silent and serene. 

There were pleasant farewells a little later. 
Gretchen-Cecilia, when the others were not 
looking, gave me, at my earnest solicitation, a 
tiny curl from the head of her doll that had 
truly truly hair. 

I walked on and on, toward the ends of the 
infinite earth, though I had found this noble 
temple, this shrine not altogether made with 
hands. I again consecrated my soul to the 
august and Protean Creator, maker of all 
religions, dweller in all clean temples, master 
of the perpetual road. 


WOULD we were blind with Milton, and we sang 
With him of uttermost Heaven in a new song, 
That men might see again the angel-throng, 
And newborn hopes, true to this age would rise, 
Pictures to make men weep for paradise, 
All glorious things beyond the defeated grave. 
God smite us blind, and give us bolder wings ; 
God help us to be brave. 

Printed in the United States of America. 

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The Congo and Other Poems 

With a preface by HARRIET MONROE, Editor of the Poetry Magazine. 

Cloth t ismO) $1.25 ; leather , $1.60 

In the readings which Vachel Lindsay has given for 
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Mr. Lindsay received the Levinson Prize for the best poem 
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"We do not know a young man of any more promise than Mr. 
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" Something new in verse, spontaneous, passionate, unmindful 
of conventions in form and theme." The Living Age. 


Publisher! 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 


Adventures While Preaching the Gospel 
of Beauty 

Price, $1.00 

This is a series of happenings afoot while reciting 1 at 
back-doors in the west, and includes some experiences 
while harvesting in Kansas. It includes several proc- 
lamations which apply the Gospel of Beauty to agri- 
cultural conditions. There are, among other rhymed 
interludes: "The Shield of Faith," "The Flute of the 
Lonely," "The Rose of Midnight," "Kansas," "The 
Kallyope Yell." 


Vachel Lindsay took a walk from his home in Springfield, TIL, 
over the prairies to New Mexico. He was in Kansas in wheat- 
harvest time and he worked as a farmhand, and he tells all about 
that. He tells about his walks and the people he met in a little 
book, "Adventures while Preaching the Gospel of Beauty." For 
the conditions of his tramps were that he should keep away from 
cities, money, baggage, and pay his way by reciting his own poems. 
And he did it. People liked his pieces, and tramp farmhands with 
rough necks and rougher hands left off singing smutty limericks 
and took to " Atlanta in Calydon" apparently because they pre- 
ferred it. Of motor cars, which gave him a lift, he says: "I still 
maintain that the auto is a carnal institution, to be shunned by the 
truly spiritual, but there are times when I, for one, get tired of 
being spiritual." His story of the **Five Little Children Eating 
Mush" (that was one night in Colorado, and he recited to them 
while they ate supper) has more beauty and tenderness and jolly 
tears than all the expensive sob stuff theatrical managers ever 
dreamed of. Mr. Lindsay doesn't need to write verse to be a poet. 
His prose is poetry poetry straight from the soil, of America that 
is, and of a nobler America that is to be. You cannot afford 
both for your entertainment and for the real idea that this young 
man has (of which we have said nothing) to miss this book. 
Editorial from Collier's Weekly. 


Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork 


The Art of the Moving Picture 

Price, $2*25 

An effort to apply the Gospel of Beauty to a new art. 
' The first section has an outline which is proposed as a 
basis for photoplay criticism in America ; chapters on : 
" The Photoplay of Action," " The Intimate Photoplay,'' 
"The Picture of Fairy Splendor," "The Picture of 
Crowd Splendor," "The Picture of Patriotic Splendor," 
"The Picture of Religious Splendor," " Sculpture in 
Motion," "Painting in Motion," "Furniture," "Trap- 
pings and Inventions in Motion, ". "Architecture in 
Motion," "Thirty Differences between the Photoplays 
and the Stage," " Hieroglyphics." The second section 
Is avowedly more discursive, being more personal specu- 
lations- and afterthoughts, not brought forward so dog- 
matically ; chapters on: " The Orchestra Conversation 
and the Censorship," "The Substitute for the Saloon," 
" California and America," " Progress and Endow- 
ment," "Architects as Crusaders," "On Coming Forth 
by Day," " The Prophet Wizard," " The Acceptable 
Year of the Lord." 


The Dial. Unsigned article by Lucien Carey, October 16, 1914, 
on " The Congo," etc. 

The Yak Review: Article by H. M. Luquiens, July, 1916, on 
"The Art of the Moving Picture." 


The Century Magazine ' "America's Golden Age in Poetry," 
March, 1916. 

Harper's Monthly Magazine : " The Easy Chair," William Dean 
Howells, September, 1915. 

The Craftsman: "Has America a National Poetry?" Amy 
Lowell, July, 1916. 


Publisher! 64-66 Fifth. Avenue New York